Magazine article Addiction Professional

Daily Guidance Delivered Electronically

Magazine article Addiction Professional

Daily Guidance Delivered Electronically

Article excerpt

As the president and program director of the Serene Center men's transitional living facility in Long Beach, California, Andrew Martin has maintained as a priority the search for technological aids to lessen the burden, of routine functions on counseling staff. He has found one such breakthrough in the area of reviewing the personal journal entries that program residents complete--an important function that nevertheless is about as routine as it gets in the daily pulse of a treatment facility.

Serene Center hosts through its Web site a Serenity Log. com journaling platform that uses a key word scan to generate daily meditations and affirmations for residents, without the need for a counselor to review each clients daily journal entries.

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"This is a system that crawls patients' entries for keywords and phrases that have to do with issues that are common to people in early recovery," Martin says of the technology, which was developed in-house with the help of a programmer. "It feeds back information to the patient on a daily basis. I don't think it shortcuts any of the counselor's work."

How the program works

Residents of the 38-bed Serene Center, a male-only facility that has been open for a little over a year, each have their own login name and password for use of the daily journaling system. Because the program is hosted on the center's Web site, residents can access it from any location.

The automated "reading" of the journal entries occurs beginning at 12:01 a.m. each morning, so that when the resident goes onto the system again the next day to compose a new entry, he will receive feedback on what he wrote the previous day.

Martin explains that depending on the keywords identified by the system, the resident will receive one of two types of feedback messages. The message either will be a meditation for the day, which is a statement for the patient to think about that is not necessarily tailored to that individual, or an affirmation, which is designed to be a more personal observation that is intended to help build the client's self-worth, Martin says.

As an example, Martin says that the system can identify the psychological manifestations of a patient dealing with denial. A simple statement in journaling such as "They were lying" could unlock a subject that might need to be explored in greater detail, such as denial or anxiety, he says.

Martin describes the entire process for the patient as a "self-awareness mechanism for the patient to recognize his own thinking. …

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