Predicting the Future
It is, as they say, hard to predict, especiallythe future. But letís try.
Michaele P. Dunlap,Psy.D.
Article (revised) fromAMHA-OR MemberNewsletter, January 2003
In June,1993, there were only 123 academic and governmentsites on the Internet, the Internet was a bright new idea. The electronictransmission of information on line was a fuzzy concept to nearly everyone.People said, "Iíll never understand it. It has nothing to do withme." Now, a decade later, there are millions of web sites, most peopleunderstand how to use the language of Internet domains, and the pattern ofpeopleís daily use of the Internet includes e-mail, on-line news, fourthgraders homework, play and chit-chat, the habit of buying movie tickets on line,getting a map to a new dentist, or the quick click into a favorite shopping siteto purchase and send a gift, a book, a new cartridge for the printer.
Internet listings for mental health professionals are beingpromoted by professional organizations, for-profit companies and the publishersof mental health magazines, insurance companies and local professional groupspost lists of members names and addresses on line. One organization, theAmerican Mental Health Alliance - USA (AMHA-USA) has created and is developing aunique professional resource, available to all licensed professionals who valueintegrity, client privacy and professional collaboration. The development ofInternet presence for AMHA-USA began in 1998 with the work of Dr. MichaelConner, an AMHA Oregon member who created the site http://www.OregonCounseling.orgfor Mentor Research Institute. That site lists Oregon AMHA members, each ontheir own page, and links their pages to articles they have written. Dr. Connerísresearch with creating interlocking sets of domain names and sites helped choosethe design protocols for the more elaborate site which was launched in 2000 at http://www.AmericanMentalHealth.comcreated by Mike Davis and Warren Dexter for AMHA-USA.
A unique resource
On http://www.AmericanMentalHealth.com, AMHA-USA member professionals each have web listings that allow their skills,professional focus and location to be searched by more than two hundred termspertaining to types of problems, theories, types of interventions, location,professional training and specialized skills. AMHA-USA members, uniquely haveaccess to their own professional information data bases, the capability toadminister, change, improve, revise and update their listings at will from theirown home or office computers. Does the process of managing a professional datapage on www.AmericanMentalHealth.comrequire a bit of persistence to learn? Yes. Is it worthwhile? Yes. And, in thenear future it will become an essential of professional practice development andmaintenance to be "findable" on the Internet.
In some communities more than 70% of the households and 80% ofthe businesses use the Internet to find information and make purchasing choicesevery week. Mental health professionals who do not present their practices onthe Internet will miss the opportunity to serve large numbers of clients,businesses and organizations. Well, you say, I can get a free listing, or a freeweb site. And, yes, you can. But ... how will you advertise it? The Internet iscrowded to bursting with individual and small group web sites. Those siteshowever have little more drawing power for your practice in New York or Oregonthan a billboard in Colorado. That is ... the process of promoting and pullingweb searchers to web sites is now a vitally important a part of visibility onthe Internet. By creating a national site, with, with every enhanced page andevery article and every discrete page posting and enhanced page postingindividually searchable on the web by its own search terms, by developingsub-sites for chapter activities and by advertising the sites and severaldifferent and attractive domain names nationally on Internet yellow pages andwith Internet search engine placement marketing, AMHA-USA is creatingdozens, soon hundreds, then thousands of layers of "searchablity" topull client searches to membersí practices.
And, then there are enhanced pages!
AMHA chapter members and AMHA-USA national members can haveenhanced pages that take the capabilities for control over how much and whatsorts of professional information one presents on line to deeper and more usefullevels. With an enhanced page, and the time it takes to master the relativelysimple steps of enhanced page management, the AMHA-USA member professional canadd her own articles, her new groups and workshops, the marketing of herpamphlet or book, a demonstration of his skill as a public speaker, a sample ofhis new education tape on parenting skill, a copy of the electronic map to heroffice, a link to the best new article on the internet about improving amarriage .... to his/her very own personal page, all embedded within the networkof interlocked sites and listings advertised nationally by AMHA-USA. And, theAMHA member can purchase and point a unique personal domain name to the enhancedpage, allowing personalized local marketing in addition to the national,regional and chapter marketing efforts. For samples of what some members arebeginning to do with their enhanced pages go to www.AmericanMentalHealth.com,click on the Therapist Locator button or links, look at the enhanced page forCharles Zadikow Psy.D. in New Jersey, or for Mary Kilburn Ph.D. in NorthCarolina, or find Mary Kilburn by entering http://drmarykilburn.com or http://www.psychologicalservices.info(these are two domain names she has purchased and pointed to her new page whichshe is learning to manage.
Look at: http://www.MichaeleDunlap.infoand observe the numbers of different page features that I have created on myown enhanced page. Features pre-set to turn themselves on and off at certaindates. Including this article. Does it take a while to learn how to manage anenhanced web page on www.AmericanMentalHealth.com? Yes. It it worth it? Yes.
But, what about the future?
Oh, yes, hereís my prediction. Not many years from now, youíllfind a great quotation, or youíll plan a new group, or youíll read or writea good book, or make a new relaxation tape, or write a thoughtful paper, orchange your office furniture, and, as casually as today you might call acolleague and share the information, you will post the quotation,information about the group, an e-mail form to register for it, the link to buyyour book, the link to buy the other authorís book, a sample of the audio tapeand a payment link to purchase copies, or the new interior picture of youroffice on your professional web page, which will be advertised on your businesscard, your office wall, at your professional listing on your professionalassociationís page, in the local Internet yellow pages, and on the Intranet ofseventeen local businesses. And, then, of course, youíll want your own website within www.AmericanMentalHealth.comso you have the flexibility to create a practice presence as multi-layered as http://or.americanmentalhealth.com.