The Skills System is working with Steve Sutter at CreateAbility Concepts, Inc. to develop the My Skills Coach app. I am very excited about this opportunity; CreateAbility is an amazing company that helps vulnerable people increase their levels of independence through technology. The My Skills Coach project received a NIDILRR federal grant to create and pilot an app that is used by consumers in their daily living environments to increase their emotion regulation skills.

App Design
The app will have multiple mechanisms designed to support the user. First, he/she will meet with a case manager/clinician to complete the set-up, input step. This will add personalized information to an individualized “toolkit” area that will be called My Stuff.

My Stuff will include recording of the person’s saying a few of their primary goals and values, such as “I want to have my own apartment” or “I want to be a kind person”. The person will take pictures of their safe places, so when it is time to do a Safety Plan, the images are always available as reminders. The person will also take pictures of the people that they usually do Talking Safety Plans with, so in the event of needing to do that, they have the visual prompt readily available. The person will record On-Track Thinking—Cheerleading Statements that help encourage them to stay on-track and reach their goals. There will be pictures of New-Me Activities (solo and partnership) that remind the person of things he/she can do to focus, feel good, distract, and have fun.

The second function of My Skills Coach will be to support the person to go through the Clear Picture Do’s and do On-Track Thinking to create a Skills Plan in their current situation. There is a skills review section where they can hear about each skill and then have an option to add it to their plan.

Description of the Pilot Study
The staff at a day-program within Trinity Services in IL will complete the Skills System E-Learning Course. The consumers, who will be randomly chosen to participate, will do the e-learning collaboratively with their staff prior to using the skills coaching app. Once they are ready to use the app, the consumer will choose their skills coach avatar, who guides and supports them to use the tool.

Although My Skills Coach may function to de-escalate emotions, this is not a de-escalation tool. During the pilot study, participants will be using a My Skills Coach tablet proactively at three designated times during their work day in a vocational day program. We will be assessing levels of engagement, changes in feeling rating, and self-report user satisfaction/experience over a three week period of daily use.

2020 and Beyond
Our goal is to have this be a simple and fun user-experience. We hope to have it bring skills into life, filling existing gaps related to generalizing skills. This project ends in March 2020 and we hope to do a Phase 2 of this NIDILRR grant following that to create an applicable version for agencies later in the year. If you/your program is interested in piloting the app, let me know via email.