My fellow videographers:

It was an amazing journey through your creations. Such an array of subjects with such a variety of techniques applied to them. It is a taste of the possibilities of video with as many approaches as there are stars in the sky.

You shared your passions. You taught, inspired and challenged with respect and humour. Your stories ranged from the personal to the global, and sometimes both at the same time. You`ve offered a glimpse of a part of yourself in your work.

It`s my nature to speculate about the personalities behind each creation; how so many of you gave, how so few of you took. But I remind myself it`s only a piece of the rich tapestry that makes up a person and that for all my talk of mindfulness and meditation, I can transform into a screaming banshee when the dog digs up a flowerbed.

Thank you for sharing the best of yourself. Thank you for sharing the gift of your creativity.

Thoughts on creating a video

When I first looked over the modules for this course, it was this one that scared me the most. It turned out to be the most fun.

I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do after the previous module. The real time eater upper for me was learning how to use the video editing software. I had hoped to use Flash, as I used to do Flash animations a few years back so I knew what it could do and how I could use it. However a few years have passed, the original developers of the program were bought out by Adobe, and many new versions have come and gone. I happily downloaded a 30 day free trial but alas, the one effect that was essential to my vision appears to have become much more complicated to do. The learning curve was too steep, my time was limited: With regret I turned to Nero video editing software. Nero was already on my computer and turned out to be easy to use, but the final version isn’t quite as polished visually as I would have liked.

Once I recorded the narration, the rest was easy to do. I worked on it over a couple of evenings, and found it to be one of those “flow” experiences. I was totally engaged and totally lost track of time. Uploading was smooth and easy. The only fly in the ointment is the distortion on podomatic. When it starts to play then it all squishes in and upward. It’s not a huge issue given that I used still images, but I can’t help but wish I’d put myself in the video since I too would look taller and thinner. 😉

The Potential Uses of Video in Promoting Psychology

During my search for videos about psychology I ran across a large number of self-proclaimed experts advocating pop psychology as the answer to whatever ails you. Honestly, I was a bit disturbed by it. After all, I wouldn’t ask my mechanic to remove my appendix.

In the context of my work as a psychologist, I see a place in social media for disseminating knowledge that is supported by the science (and the art) of my profession. The simplicity of concepts like the power of positive thinking makes them attractive. But damage has been done by this kind of oversimplification. People have been lead to believe, for example, that their misfortune stems from their inability to think positively; as if positive thinking was magic that could sweep away all the random and outrageous challenges that life throws at us.

I’m a psychotherapist, not a teacher, but there are certain lessons I repeatedly share with clients including the value of realistic thinking, coping with panic, how to keep a mood/anger log, setting achievable goals, assertiveness and setting boundaries, etc. Any of these topics could be delivered through the medium of video, both educating and off-setting some of the misinformation out there. If producing and sharing these informational snippets has the side effect of establishing my credibility as an expert, that could only benefit my private practice.

Three Psychology Videos

My search for videos focused on those that demonstrate the practical application of psychological theories, research and practice; videos that “market” psychology as an art and science. The first one to make an impression was a TED talk:

1. Philip Zimbardo: The psychology of evil

This was both fascinating and hard to watch. Dr. Zimbardo uses images of the abuses at Abu Ghraib to make the case that evil is contextual. Anybody put in the position that those soldiers were would probably have behaved in the same way. He cites Milgram’s and his own research as demonstrations of how the majority of people will abuse another person under the right circumstances. It ends on a more positive note as he explains the importance of valuing nonconformity, and of raising our children to be “heroes in waiting”.

I thought the video a very effective promotion of the value of psychology. He clearly makes the point that you and I (as well as himself) are capable of “evil”, and offers us a way to understand the circumstances under which it will manifest. He also points to a better, although more difficult, way to be. I highly recommend this video for anyone with even a passing interest in the subject.

2. How to change your negative thoughts. Dr. Sharon Melnick

A five minute videotaped lecture/presentation by a self-described “business psychologist dedicated to helping talented and successful people ‘get out of their own way’.” ( Judging from the video she is promoting cognitive psychology as a way to enhance achievement and job performance. This video doesn’t deliver on its promise. She discusses how negative thoughts impact performance. She doesn’t begin to describe how to change your thinking, but points to her website where presumably her book, online course, or training seminars will teach you how to change the way you think. She does offer a free webinar, but by this point she’s lost credibility with me.

D. Melnick appears to be using this video to market her business. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, the content leaves me wondering about her integrity. Can she be trusted to deliver the goods if you pay her, because she sure didn’t in her YouTube video. A good example of what not to do: be too overt in marketing and underestimate the audience.

3. How To Block Unwanted Negative Thoughts: The True Source of Negative Feelings

I have no idea what Larry Bilotta is trying to sell. His website is a mess and his relationship expertise stems from the fact that he salvaged his own marriage. I wouldn’t buy a used car from him much less relationship advice. But his video delivers his model of the “true source of negative feelings,” in an entertaining way. The visuals are cute and he’s an engaging speaker. My only complaint is his choice of music. (Ack! Make it stop!) The video is a good example of how to make a potentially dry presentation fast paced and engaging. The lesson I learned from Larry is about presentation, not content.

I think I learned more from the bad examples. 🙂

video podcast done and published. Phew….

Video is up and the link is below. It is another mindfulness exercise, following the theme of the other podcasts. I recommend listening with headphones if you have some handy. There is an extra layer of sound that doesn’t come through on laptop speakers, at least not on mine.

Relax and enjoy. 🙂

Could podcasting be an effective way to market an online therapy business?

Oh yeah.

I suppose I should elaborate a bit…..

Even though I can’t appreciate listening to podcasts, I accept that some people like them and learn best by listening. Even though my daily commute is ten minutes long, some people are in their cars or on trains for an hour or more each working day. Even though I prefer to listen to music while I’m doing other things, some people presumably like to listen to talking. For those people, I can see a podcast as an alternative to reading a blog. If I decided to attract potential clients by providing a series of mental health and wellness tips and tricks in a blog, for example, podcasting those same tips and tricks may reach a wider audience.

In addition, podcasts do something that no other medium does (except maybe video with audio): teach the listener how to relax/become mindful, etc. There is no better way to achieve these states than to be guided through the steps. Written scripts don’t work. When someone reads their way through a progressive muscle relaxation exercise, for example, maintaining the place in the script breaks the flow of the experience and lessens the effectiveness of the exercise.
I will be creating more podcasts to provide to my clients, and I will put them out there for anyone interested in learning the skills as a way of promoting my business.

Thanks for reading!


Thoughts on creating podcasts

The podcast hosting service we were directed to was very easy to use, except for the recording part. I couldn’t find any way to pause it. So I downloaded Audacity and used that to record. Audacity can be paused, so I made judicious use frequently stopping to take a deep breath and find my place in the script. If I were going to do more podcasting, though, I would find an editing program so that I could record sections and then put them together. Maybe that can be done with Audacity. I was in rush and didn’t bother to read anything about it. I actually have Nero on my computer, but couldn’t find any way to do audio editing with it. Again, I probably need to read the instructions. 😉 Overall, though, the actual recording and posting process was easy. These were short podcasts and rerecording once or twice wasn’t too time consuming.

I used a script because I sometimes meander off topic and forget what I was trying to say. I also felt some anxiety about this assignment, so having a script was like having a safety net. If I were to continue with podcasting, I suspect I would continue to use scripts.

I had some concerns about my voice holding up. I’m still having some respiratory symptoms following the flu and my voice tends to crack and break. Luckily these were short podcasts, and while I don’t quite sound like my regular self I thought my voice didn’t sound too bad all things considered.

Coming up with a topic was challenging, but once I’d done the first one the content of the second became obvious. The second podcast was more difficult to record, however, because it was more experiential. Rather than just talking I was using my voice as a tool, and had to pay attention to things like pacing and tone. The first time I recorded it, I had some issues with blowing on the mic which broke the mood on playback. I re-recorded it with the mic away from my mouth, but then had volume issues. Again, the right software could have probably overcome this.

Those are my thoughts on the technical aspects of podcasting. Thanks for reading.