Newsletter articles are below. Film reviewsbook reviews and mobile app reviews that also appeared in The Dialogue are located on separate pages.

IBooks Author review for Maryland ASTD newsletter

Spring 2012

Apple’s recently released iBooks Author is a promising tool for those in training and development.  The fact that Apple has partnered with several major textbook publishers bodes well for its future.  This software allows one to produce multimedia books for the Ipad (but the Ipad alone).  These books can contain movie clips, interactive animations, diagrams, photos and simple quizzes.  It is relatively easy to learn for those already familiar with Macs, and will seem especially familiar to those who have used Iweb software.  While iBooks Author is free to download, you will need a relatively new Mac (at least a Intel core 2 Duo) that runs Leopard, the latest operating system.  An upgrade to Leopard will cost $30.  Some people online reported problems with upgrading.  However, this author’s experience went smoothly, even with her five-year-old computer.

To preview your book you will need an Ipad 2 or 3 that has iBooks2 installed.  Once you have created your book and previewed it on your Ipad you are ready to publish.   You can choose to either sell your text, or offer it for free.  Either way, you are only allowed to distribute it through the iTunes store.  However, you retain rights to the content, and can repurpose it as you see fit.  You have the option of creating a PDF file from your book.  However, you will loose any interactivity, and  “made with Ibooks Author” will be displayed on the bottom of every page.

The fact that the book is only available for Ipads and not other types of tablets is a significant limitation.  However, this new medium and its ease of use creates new possibilities for training and education.  Being in the iTunes store will give some publications a new life by exposing them to a different audience.  Ipad books are already being used by sales people in the field to reference and demonstrate products.  In combining the best of different media, the interactive book could prove better in elucidating certain concepts than either a traditional book or movie alone.   I am looking forward to seeing the new ways people will find to use this new technology in both training and education.

articles for The Central East ATTC eNewsletter "The Dialogue"

“SafeTALK: Suicide Alertness for Everyone” Training Review 


The District of Columbia Department of Mental Health conducted a free three-hour training entitled “SafeTALK: Suicide Alertness for Everyone” which this author attended on September 27th, 2013. Although open to anyone over the age of 15, the majority of attendees were employees of the Department of Mental Health who needed to earn continuing education credits.

This workshop is part of a suite of suicide prevention programs modeled on the CPR training program which equips people to respond knowledgeably to crises. Developed by a Canadian company called LivingWorks, the complete suite of programs includes:

• Suicide Assist: Learn Suicide Intervention Skills • SafeTALK: Learn Suicide Alertness Skills • SuicideTALK: Bring Suicide Awareness to Your Community • SuicideCare: Upgrade Skills for Working with Persons at Risk of Suicide After the Initial Suicide Crisis

SafeTALK is a well-crafted program that varies videos, role-playing, lecture and discussion in order to fully engage the student on how to “move beyond common tendencies to miss, dismiss or avoid” signs of suicide and how to identify those with suicidal thoughts. After attending this training, students are not expected to actually counsel or advise anyone on a professional level but only to provide that person with references to a trained provider or an appropriate care facility.

According to SafeTALK, most people who have suicidal thoughts often have ambivalent feelings about actually following through and may frequently spend a long time just considering the act. The hints they may often drop for others are missed or go unacknowledged because the listener is in denial or doesn’t know how to respond. So one key takeaway from this workshop is that any hint of suicide needs to be taken with the utmost seriousness.

Due to the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health, most people don’t feel comfortable discussing suicide or asking somebody directly whether they are thinking of killing themselves. One of SafeTALK’s core tenets is that this must change – that the only way to gain the trust of a person with suicidal thoughts or urges is to demonstrate that you are at ease, non-judgmental, and will not panic or become uncomfortable if they do take the risk of opening up to you.

This idea was hard to accept for many in the audience who felt, as clinicians, that a more indirect approach in order to establish trust and avoid the risk of offending was better. One student asked if it wouldn’t be preferable to ask whether the potentially suicidal person was “thinking of harming themselves”. The instructor responded that a person with suicidal thoughts could take this as a sign that the questioner wasn’t really comfortable talking about suicide. Further, the person could truthfully respond with a “No” if the suicide method being considered wasn’t going to be painful. Likewise, an affirmative response of “Yes” could indicate that the client only plans to self-harm via cutting, burning, etc., – ways which are not necessarily indicative of suicidal ideation. Therefore, SafeTALK maintains that one should always directly ask whether they are thinking of committing suicide rather than beating around the bush.

SafeTALK’s goal is to train as many ordinary citizens as possible to be able to identify people with suicidal thoughts or urges and provide them with references for follow-up counselling and treatment. This workshop provides this training and moves toward reducing the stigma about having direct, open and honest discussions about suicide.

Learn More:

1. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 and can connect the caller to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in their area. You can also use the therapy finder on their website: • 1-800-273-TALK (8255) •

2. Register for the next “SafeTALK: Suicide Alertness for Everyone” and for other classes here:

3. LivingWorks Education (designer of SafeTALK and other suicide prevention curriculum and training)

4. Addressing Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Substance Abuse Treatment – Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 50

5. Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS)

“Introduction to Mental Illness” Training at the D.C. Department of Mental Health

On September 20, 2013, the District of Columbia’s Department of Mental Health conducted a free three-hour training seminar titled “Introduction to Mental Illness” which this author attended. Although open to the general public, most of those in attendance dealt in some professional capacity with individuals with mental illness, but still felt the need to become better informed.

Some of the key takeaways of this presentation were particularly timely given the recent tragic mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. Takeaways included:

Individuals with mental illness are no more likely than the general population to be violent. In fact, they are far more apt to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it. The vast majority of those who suffer from paranoia manifest their symptoms in feelings of fear and suspicion, but not in aggression.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is an excellent resource. It is “ the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research.”

Mental illness is defined as a health condition, similar to any other medical condition. Diagnosis depends not just on the symptoms but on whether the symptoms impact a person’s level of functioning on a daily basis.

The Recovery Model, developed by SAMHSA and encouraged through Medicaid, is the most effective approach. It combines support from the community with an empowered “consumer” to create a “person centered” treatment plan.

1 in 4 American adults experience mental illness in a given year. Even those with chronic conditions experience “peaks and valleys”. Since we know that “the more stress, the more problems”, we can still improve the lives of those individuals with chronic conditions by reducing the stressful circumstances in their lives. It takes time and usually several interviews to make a complete diagnosis. Symptoms will often be listed as “provisional” or “r/o” (for “rule out”) until they can be confirmed or eliminated. There is a great need for more of these training seminars, not only among the general public but for those who encounter individuals with mental illness in a professional capacity.

[i] Mental Illness Facts and Numbers. (2013). Retrieved October 4, 2013, from

Learn More:

1. Register for the next Introduction to Mental Illness and other classes here:

2. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

New tool for Leadership Development

On October 25, 2012, Enspire Learning presented a webinar to demonstrate its new simulation based leadership development program called “Management Challenge”. This program is geared towards front line or new managers. Most face gaps in communications skills that affect their ability to mentor and motivate. This program is either a one-day in class experience, or virtual delivery that lasts 2 hours a day for 4 days. They recommend this be done over a single week if possible.

Emphasis is on peer feedback and interaction. There is also practice with video recordings of workplace scenarios, followed by facilitator led debriefings and exercises. Participants are put in teams of three. One director, one senior manager and one manager are given virtual employees to interact with. They will rotate roles to experiences all perspectives. From what this author observed this technology seems like a promising model for promoting leadership development. However, she has not actually taken part in the program itself and thus can not personally endorse it. The standard cost is $295 per person plus $3500 for facilitation. However, some discounts are possible, including a current half-off special for a limited time. More frequent users can certify and use their own trainers for the program which would reduce costs. More information is available at: