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Technology and Mental Health

By Dr. Allen Novian

As I work more and more with Anxiety patients and study the impact of anxiety and frustration in people’s lives, I encountered the perfect illustration in my own life. Have you ever tried to hook something up without directions? How about put together a puzzle only to find that a key piece is missing? All I can say is that technology is only good when it WORKS!

Technology is in every facet of our lives these days. We have digital clocks, laptops, our cell phones double as music players, mini computers, and calendars! When setting up my office, I knew I would have quite a bit of computer technology to access during sessions. As a neurofeedback provider, I have several computers which require multiple screens, one for me and one for my client. That’s a lot of hardware to fit in one room! I also wanted to be able to watch DVDs with some of my clients as I have a video library which I use for examples or segments of videos that I use to supplement the points we make in session.

My technologist came up with a way to hide most of my hardware in a cabinet and she wired most of the components into a digital projector instead of having individual monitors for each system. The result is that my office is void of distracting pieces of equipment. I love it! However, my set up is somewhat unique… we often have to jury rig components to work with the projector because no one sets things up like we have. It’s like a gigantic puzzle where not only do the pieces have to fit, they have to work together! I recently got a Cognivideo machine which gives me greater flexibility within my neurofeedback sessions. I love the concept of using someone’s favorite movie as the reward for feedback, as the “games” included in my neurofeedback software can become frustrating and overly predictable. The machine is GREAT… but first I had to make it work! It installed fine, no problem, but then I hit a snag. I didn’t have the right cord to plug it into the projector! The machine was made to work with a television! It took time to find a cord that would work, and finally, I got it in. Done, right? Nope. I had a DVD player, but the speakers that I had would not work with it, so the videos had no sound… The problems just kept coming. It was an exercise in dealing with my own anxiety that this expensive piece of equipment was now a paperweight while I waited for my technologist to trouble shoot… over, and over, and over again.

Finally we fixed the problem and everything is working again, but if there is anything I have discovered in this experience, it is that even though problems pop up, anxiety does not help solve it. Instead, I had to rely on the coping mechanisms and training that I have received. Anxiety is real, and it effects most of us, but I can help! I have learned to cope with it myself, and so can help you all the better.

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