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Book Reviews   |    
Human Services Technology: Innovations in Practice and Education
Reviewed by Zebulon Taintor, M.D.
Psychiatric Services 2004; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.55.4.460
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edited by Hy Resnick, Ph.D., and Phoebe Sade Anderson, M.S.W.; New York, Haworth Press, 398 pages, $39.95 softcover

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This book is a "separate" that was originally published in the Journal of Technology in Human Services. The Haworth Press is adept at this publishing approach and lists other relevant separates in the book. The papers in Human Services Technology: Innovations in Practice and Education describe software applications that can be used in treatment (with separate sections for young and adult patients) and education (Web-based courses, distance learning, and CD-ROMs and videodiscs).

Although the book is clearly directed at social work and social workers, the 14 papers potentially are useful for all mental health disciplines. All have been chosen by the editors—Hy Resnick, Ph.D., and Phoebe Sade Anderson, M.S.W.—on the grounds that they have progressed to a second stage of development and have attracted users. Some have been evaluated objectively, and some have won awards. All are obviously user-friendly. Technical details are sparse, but most of the programs described seem to be platform independent (CDs). Prices are not given, but some applications use shareware. The book contains good comments on development, including user involvement.

Each section is placed in historical context. All the applications are used to supplement or enable contact between and among humans, not to replace them. They were developed in Australia, Canada, Finland, Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In a section on programs for the young, Louis L. Aymard describes "Funny Face," which is used to identify feelings and aid in their expression through the drawing of faces. Les Cowan describes the use of a puppy tale—"Bruce's Multimedia Story"—for children under the age of eight and "Billy Breaks the Rules" for children aged eight to 14 years. Michael Gropper uses "Say No With Donny" for drug and alcohol prevention. Donny is a simulated role model of a wise older child. Kris Bosworth writes about "Talking It Out," a computer-based mediation process for settling disputes. Ann Wilder and Dick Schoech present two multimedia training programs about HIV infection and AIDS that they developed for children.

In the section on programs for adults, Andrea Meier describes using a mailing list to develop an online stress management support group for social workers. Jerry Finn and Mary Banach review legal and ethical issues pertaining to online services practice (without mentioning the objections of the Clinical Social Work Federation). Kate Collie and David Cubranic present a distance art therapy program focused on chronic illness. Maxine Rosenfield argues for telephone counseling. Marja-Leena Mielonen and associates describe telepsychiatry in northern Finland. F. Floyd Lewis and coauthors review the 20-year development of Group Support Systems software—specifically, the widely used "Meeting Works."

A section on technology in education includes descriptions of Web-based courses by Brett A. Seabury and by Jack A. Cummings and Curtis J. Bonk. In a section on distance learning, Steven Hick describes how he connected aboriginal learners in remote Australian communities via an online social work course. Robert J. MacFadden and coauthors discuss emotion and "high touch" in the context of reducing the dropout rate in online courses. A section on CD-ROMs and videodiscs includes descriptions of the Microcounseling Skills Simulation Program (by Harold B. Engen and Robert David Dawson), a multimedia communication skills training program that was found to be effective for undergraduate social work education (by Forrest C. Bud Hansen and coauthors), and an orientation for new human services workers (by Alan D. Bookhagen and coauthors). Finally, A. Elizabeth Cauble and Janice M. Dinkel describe how videodiscs were used in developing a training program for child welfare workers.

Dr. Taintor is affiliated with New York University and the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in Orangeburg, New York.

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