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How To Use Skype For Coaching

On my iPad’s Flipboard application, I came across a short article on the “Twitter Doctors” board, shared by Russell A. Faust on thenextweb.com about nine-year-old Samuel Sevian, the youngest National Chess Master in U.S. history. The son of laser developing physicist Armen Sevian, Samuel has become something of a chess rawk star, where in his father’s home country, Samuel would be celebrity. What does does Samuel have to do with a post about using Skype for coaching? And how can you use Skype for the goals you want to reach in the coming year?

What is Skype?
Skype is a software application that allows anyone with a computer or smartphone to make voice calls over the Internet. Users have a choice of free calls (conducted over a wired or wireless Internet connection), which are usually limited to one hour, and these can be audio only or video calls. Most smartphones have a Skype application that can be downloaded from an application store for free. A professional account can be purchased if you wish to ensure better service and unlimited talk time.

Skype has become popular for its free Internet phone calls as well as file sharing and video conferencing. While corporate structures must be careful when using Skype because of the legal ramifications involved, Skype in the field of telemedicine has exciting potential for helping professionals and clients alike, diminishing the challenges of location, distance, money, and time in providing specialized care to those who seek them.

How does Seattle Direct Counseling use Skype for coaching and counseling?
Here’s my easy five-step approach to using Skype:
1. Clients sign an informed consent form, educating them on the use of web applications and confidentiality. You can see a copy of it on my website under Forms.
2. Clients download the web application to their computer or smart phone and set up an account.
a. Use of Skype requires the following: the web application on a smart phone or computer, a web camera with good quality video output, and either a built-in microphone or headphones.
3. I release my Skype address to the client, and ask them to “show up” to their appointment five minutes before the session begins, to make sure we have a connection.
4. We discuss viable options if for some reason our connection is broken, or the voice quality is poor.
5. All chat conversation is removed after the session is finished. Your Skype address remains in my log for future reference.

Samuel sounds like he has a bright future ahead of him. Did you know he has a coach too? The young chess master practices playing chess with his coach, international master Andranik Matikozyan. And guess what? They practice chess using Skype.

What do you want to be coached in? How to date? Starting a small business? Learning how to use Social Media? Taking off weight sensibly by creating a health lifestyle? Switching tracks for a mid-career change? It’s all up to you. Coaching can help you create goals, stay on track, and see your wishes fulfilled. Whether you use, Skype, Facetime, TinyTok, Google Voice, or any other web application, coaching via the Internet and phone is the way to go.

Editor’s note: if you are a counselor or coach, check out this short post about what you should know about using Skype for coaching. Coach Darren Cockburn in the UK uses Skype for 90% of his coaching, and his article has good advice for those who want to use Skype for their coaching practices.

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Never Too Late For A Happy New Year

It’s the end of the year. Seattle Direct Counseling wraps up its tenth year, providing counseling (and now coaching!) services in the private practice setting. While my office is going to be closed Dec. 24, 2010 to January 3, 2011, I am not surprised how many phone calls I get at this time of year. If you’re thinking about starting up coaching or counseling, here’s why it’s never too late to get started, and why you should call now.

Why calling now makes more cents

Never Too Late

While delaying the counseling process can have a profound effect on whatever it is you are working on, it is never too late to get started. The issues you’ve been considering, the broken relationship that still hurts, or that career transition you’ve been dreaming about is still there. A good question to ask yourself when thinking about starting counseling or coaching is, “Why now?” If you have a solid answer, you’re ready to go.

Many people ask me, “Is it too late to work on X,Y, Z?” I usually answer, ” Well, is X,Y, or Z still going to there if you ignore it?” If the answer is yes, telling yourself it’s too late may be just another excuse to keep you further away from creating a more satisfying life, or a making a better choice you can live with.

Call Now

Why call my office now instead of waiting until after the New Year? Did you know that New Year’s resolutions are usually not achieved within the first four times a person makes that resolution? That means that if you have the inkling to make progress on a life goal, you need to use the motivation you have right now to take a step in the direction you want to go.

SDC’s coaching special of three 30 minute coaching sessions with a follow up phone call of 10 minutes for $100 must be purchased before Dec. 31, 2010, and used before March 31, 2011.  This will help jump start your resolution for change. I can also book your sessions ahead of time. By doing so, you’re being smart with your money and time.

Once the New Year gets going, office hours are filled quickly! By making a decision and calling now, you can put yourself in the right direction towards your 2011 goals.

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Depression Holiday self-care

How To Avoid The Holiday Blues

As a therapist for ten years, you could say that I am an “expert” at noticing patterns of behavior in people. Now that we’re in the middle of the holiday trio (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day), it is not uncommon to hear my clients talk about something I refer to as, “The Holiday Blues”.  In fact, it is such a common phenomenon, it ought to have its own hashtag on Twitter!  If you know you get a bit depressed, cranky, and stressed around this time of year, this is the article for you.

What are the Holiday Blues? The signs and symptoms mimic a situational depressed mood: feelings of stress or panic, fatigue, changes in appetite, withdrawal from friends and family, feelings of sadness and loss, unexplained over-responsive anger, loneliness, and insomnia. With the depressed mood can be some mixed anxiety from the stress that may be present around holiday times.

Do holidays give you the blues?

Rx For The Holiday Blues. Too bad there isn’t a pill you can take to treat HB symptoms. But there are a few things you can do that will likely reduce the depressed feelings mixed with anxiety.

1. Schedule “down time”  for yourself. Do not pack your schedule too tightly. Let your mind rest instead of forcing it to dash around as you carry it here and there. My pick: do a some light yoga stretches, take a hot bath, listen to quiet music.

2. Prepare for family visits with some encouraging but realistic  self-talk. Lower your expectations, and avoid highly charged conversations where shameful and embarrassing situations may emerge. Aim for one meaningful moment per day with them, where you make a note to yourself to enjoy something about being together.

3. If the holidays mean eating large quantities of sugar and fat, plan accordingly so you don’t experience the associated mood swings. Increase your water intake, and include activities away from the restaurant and the kitchen. Taking a a walk after a meal can be a way to get a little movement in.

4. Watch your spending, and physically record your spending somewhere you can see to avoid credit card bill shock mid-January. Many people turn to retail therapy to feel good, or we simply lose track of the added expenses of gift giving and holiday partying. Create a budget, and do not give yourself excuses to break that budget in a way that will put needless stress on you during the following billing cycle.

5. Give yourself permission to acknowledge losses and change. The family may have lost or gained new members, or the holidays might remind you how time continues to march on regardless of your best efforts to remain still.  You might need time to grieve, cry, or laugh hysterically over those changes. Both laughter and tears can be therapeutic.

What I’m describing here is congruency of feeling and expression. Repressed emotions can emerge during highly stressful times when we feel the expectations of others. While it’s good to know exactly how you feel when these emotions emerge, they don’t always come up at a time it’s appropriate to share them with someone else. Find healthy ways to express those emotions: record them in a journal, share with a trusted friend, take a walk by yourself, scream in your car, or talk to a therapist.

6. The Holiday Blues can also be associated with the lack of sunlight if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. I’ve posted information about this in my article about Vitamin D and sunlight.  Vacation time in a sunny place, UV light exposure, or a special light box made to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder can help lift the winter blahs.

Note: if you’re having more than occasional thoughts about harming yourself or taking your life, put a plan in place to help you feel safe. Call a friend, talk to a crisis line counselor, or call your therapist. You do not have to face this alone.

This year, you don’t have to be out with the Holiday Blues. If you have suggestions for how you beat the Holiday Blues, please submit your comments here, or send them to imei.hsu@gmail.com and I’ll reprint them anonymously.