My Diabetic Community

Sigmund Freud meets Larry Page
How my career as a diabetic specialist grew in real-time Internet interaction

Good Morning, My name is Eliot LeBow. I am a licensed psychotherapist in the state of New York as well as an emotional health and wellness advisor for the American Diabetes Association. I have a private practice on the Upper Westside of NYC, working with clients on diabetic & non-diabetic related life issues.

As I was writing my presentation, I came to the realization that Real-Time Internet was about community and my experience as a person with diabetes has been changed as a result.

In 1977, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Back then the information on diabetes was sparse. I was isolated as a 6-year-old child, thinking I was the only diabetic on the planet earth.

Information back then came from the Sunday Times and a black and white TV with rabbit Ears on it. I remember having several friends around the TV with one of my friends saying “Ok, Joe the reception is perfect now. Just hold it there.” I look up to see a 10-year-old boy holding a rabbit ear with arms stretched out and a wire hanger in the other hand. Boy, what we went through to get good reception. Where now it’s just a press of a button on the remote. Times have changed since then.

My first interaction with the diabetic population was at Joslin, a sleep-away camp for children with diabetes. Where I first felt that I was part of a community, if even it was for a short period. At Camp, my world grew from just me to about one hundred diabetic campers. It was difficult for as much as I loved camp and the feeling of a community after a few weeks I was back to a population of one.

In September of 1989, I started college.  To get the information I had gone to the library. Now a day, you don’t have to ask a librarian, you just ask Google. As I went along, technology grew. Pagers, cell phones, cars that talk was changing the way we communicate. After I had graduated college with a bachelor’s in Fine Art, the Internet was born.

Over the next ten years, I went from hand delivering slides of my art to posting my art online. During that time, I successfully showed my work across three different continents and learned the power of the Internet.

It was the age of the dot.com, and the dot.com error came to a screeching halt at the end of the 1990’s. It felt and seemed like the Internet, had died and that the Internet pioneers had promised more than they could deliver. Dot.com companies were going out of business everywhere. The art world collapsed just as my job opportunities did.

As a result, I went back to school to become a psychotherapist so I could help people living with diabetes deal with their emotional issues. Just as I had been helped by psychotherapists during my life.

As the Internet grew, it opened up many new opportunities for the diabetic community and me. Personally, I followed every change in diabetes treatment. I found the Internet to be an excellent resource!

With the development of real-time Internet, my experience with the diabetic community from one when I was first diagnosed, to millions. Over the course of my life, I went from Isolation to Universalization spanning the globe.

My first Real-Time Internet community was Facebook. I used my account to talk to friends. Maybe it was my age, 140 characters or to fast paced, but I didn’t get Twitter. Yet!!!

Entering my private practice, I thought that I could walk into an endocrinologist office, and they would just give me referrals, hand over fist. Boy, was I wrong!

Luckily, I did have a website, with zero traffic but a website nonetheless. At that time, I couldn’t see how and didn’t know the importance of transforming my psychotherapy practice and website into a resource for the diabetic community using the real-time internet.

I am grateful to my best friend Jennifer said that I needed a platform. She stated that I needed to do several things like starting a blog on my website, build a diabetic page on Facebook, open a Twitter account as well as open a Linkedin account. A month later my platform was up and running. I was interacting in real time with diabetics all over the world.

I transitioned from being a consumer of the information on the ‘Net to becoming a psychotherapist who specializes in diabetes and provides information to the diabetic community. Become a proponent of educating the diabetic community using real-time Internet, reaching out and helping thousands of diabetics worldwide. Real-time Internet was increasing my visibility locally and internationally.

Real-time Internet increased the opportunity for more personal one-to-one interactions online with other diabetics, which impacted the growth of my psychotherapy practice and helped me gain a community of support.

The Director of Corporate affairs for the ADA was following me on Twitter. To my surprise, he sent me a direct message that read, “let’s meet.” I saw him with his arm around Bret Michaels in his profile photo and said yes with no need to ask why.

A month later I was the Emotional health and wellbeing adviser for the ADA, giving presentations to doctors and the general public in communities throughout all five burrows of NYC.

Over the past year and a half, the real-time internet has shown me the importance of being visible to the educated consumer. So the potential client has lots of information to find the psychotherapist that best meet their needs. After all, now we can chat or tweet, and they can Google me. They find lots of the valuable resources I provide, before they ever meet me, making them feel more comfortable at our first session.

In the present day, you can Google “diabetes psychotherapy” and my website www.diabetictalks.com will appear at the top of page one.  Honestly? It blew my mind. Top of the page!

One of my patients found my practice through my U-tube channel.  

Nowadays, every night I spend 1-2 hours responding to tweets on Twitter & posts on Facebook. No longer just a static website, but an interactive diabetic community through direct interaction.

In my Private Practice, I prefer to see clients in person. However, if the customer is out of town for an extended amount of time, we can always conference on Skype.

I continue to build my private practice through giving my time and working with the diabetic online community in the cloud. I am not just a name on an insurance company list of therapists. I am a member of their community, and we have already met.

To get help or for more information on Diabetes-Focused Psychotherapy go to Eliot’s website or set up a free 30-minute phone consultation.

Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Medical Disclaimer:
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.

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