At NogginLabs, we believe that any almost anything can be learned online. We’ve proven time and again that even nuanced interpersonal skills can be practiced and learned in an online environment, if that environment offers a rich, detailed and dynamic simulation of the real world. That is what we strive to create when we work with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and we have a long history of success.

We got our start way back in 2005, when the whole concept of e-learning was still relatively new. Behavioral Tech Research, Inc. approached us to develop a 12-hour course on Dialectical Behavioral Treatment Skills for mental health clinicians. To create something sufficiently realistic, we sought input from DBT-Skills experts from across the country, who were trained and supervised directly by Marsha Linehan, the developer of DBT.

Our goal was to mimic the actual therapeutic environment as closely as possible, creating a fail-safe environment in which clinicians could practice and hone their skills without the risk of real-world consequences. The result was a visually rich course with extensive interactivity that simulates sessions with clients and conversations with colleagues. We were so successful in meeting our objectives that a randomized controlled trial evaluated our training’s effectiveness compared to traditional training methods and found that our course outperformed in-person training in increasing knowledge of the treatment.

Based on the success of the DBT-Skills course, NogginLabs and Behavioral Tech Research, Inc. again partnered with Marsha Linehan, this time to build a course called Transforming Difficult Moments in Therapy. Based on the principles of DBT, this course features another absolutely stunning and dynamic virtual environment and a vast library of video content.

It also shares a bit of instructional design with our 3-Minute Breathing Space course, as this was the first time we utilized voice analysis activities to teach therapeutic techniques. This course also includes actor portrayals of clients, so users can observe body language and other non-verbal cues to help inform their approach to their client. This type of innovation, combined with an impressive collection of video lectures featuring Marsha Linehan, earned us a Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Gold Award for Best Use of Video in Learning.

For our next challenge, Behavioral Tech Research, Inc. asked us to develop a course called Foundations of Exposure Therapies, in partnership with Dr. Melanie Harned and a board of experts. Again, the goal was to simulate the experience of conducting exposure therapy with clients as closely as possible.

To achieve this, we created a vibrant world populated with virtual clients, each with unique backgrounds, goals and challenges. As a clinician applies the therapy with these clients, they can see immediate and long-term consequences, through client reactions in the moment or reported successes or challenges mentioned by the clients in later sessions or calls. Again, the strategy of creating a realistic simulation proved to be highly effective in a clinical trial, and the course went on to win two Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Gold Awards, for Best Use of Games for Learning and Best Use of Virtual Worlds for Learning.

Last but not least, we developed a Chain Analysis course for Behavioral Tech Research, Inc. Chain Analysis is a core component of DBT and CBT-focused therapies. This course also relied heavily on the use of virtual clients, providing profiles and background information on each situation and then asking users to practice applying chain analysis. It has been approved as a Continuing Education option for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors, Nurses, and Social Workers, as well as Psychiatrists and Psychologists.

The common themes running through all of these successes are partnership with top experts and rich, simulated environments that capture all of the complexity and dynamics of the real therapeutic environment. When clinicians are able to learn and practice these nuanced skills in a fail-safe environment and can see the consequences of their decisions play out, they receive valuable feedback and can learn important lessons without the potential for real-world damage. The research supports the efficacy of this approach, and we are honored to play a part in making these important treatment methods available to more mental health professionals and their clients.