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CHOICES Team Visiting Smokers Virtually During COVID Crisis by Trish Dooley Budsock

When we initially discussed starting the process of writing articles about Covid in mid-March, my initial response was, “Nah….this may not be relevant by June.” Well, here we are, three months in, and it’s still very relevant. I thought it would be nice to update our faithful readers on our current status and activities.

At this time, we are checking in weekly via web meetings to see how everyone is doing and discuss what projects they are working on as it relates to this new virtual world of CHOICES. We are reviewing a new potential component of our usual presentation, which is based on the text, “Mindfulness Oriented Recovery Enhancement,” by Eric Garland, PhD. Our advocate, Azeem, has been studying various forms of mindfulness meditation for about 20 years and has been practicing techniques for more than a year. We have discussed this as a potential addition to our site visits.


Our thought is that adding a 5 minute meditation near the beginning of our site visits would be a great way to engage consumers in an activity that could potentially reduce stress and anxiety around the topic of tobacco. We have been spending several of our meetings doing some of the meditations ourselves, and thinking about the ideal combination of elements to add to our presentation. Hopefully our participants will enjoy this approach.

Around mid-April, we began checking in with a handful of our programs to see what they were doing in terms of treatment and groups etc. We learned that some were offering virtual support, and then asked if they would be interested in having CHOICES do a presentation. As of May 7th, we began doing CHOICES site visits virtually, in either a web or phone-based platform. We wanted to start slowly, to work out the technology, and so far these visits seem to be going pretty smoothly.

We’re not sure when we will decide as a team to hit the road again, so in the meantime, please email me at dooleypc@rutgers.edu if your agency would like us to set up a virtual session! Remember, even during the Covid crisis, mental health consumers have CHOICES!

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