Few people say they set out to put words in the mouths of others, but Gerry Goertzen does.
Goertzen, director/therapist at Riverbend Counselling at 1110 Henderson Hwy. released the Velvet Steel app in early February to help men figure out what to say in a variety of social situations.
The application, available for both iPhone ($1.99) and Android ($0.99) devices, lists off common situations in which users might find themselves. One major example he gave is for parents communicating with their children first thing in the morning, offering suggestions of how to motivate them right from waking up to getting them out the door to school by not only putting forth ideas of what to say, but also noting what not to say.
Goertzen explained he expects users will primarily find the app helpful at home and at work.
"Those are the key places where relationships are developed and maintained," he said. "People run into trouble. Relationships are complicated. They take work, and sometimes, we lose our way.
"Sometimes we’re not sure what to say in any given situation, and we’re struck with awkwardness, or we’re struck with blurting things out that we later regret, or we’re tongue-tied and we’re just not sure what to say."
Goertzen said the idea for the app came from clients who acknowledged struggling to implement his advice from their sessions.
"Clients would say ‘Gerry, you make it sound so easy to say that, but I’ll never remember it – write it down for me’," he said, noting clients would ask for cheat sheets or cue cards. "A couple years ago, (I thought) ‘why cue cards when it could be an electronic app?’"
Goertzen developed the Android version with help from his son Mark, an information technologist living in East Kildonan, and he enlisted web designer Shaun Sidwall to complete the Apple version. It became even more of a family affair when his Fort Garry-based daughter Shyla, a manager at Earls, and his William Whyte-resident son Jesse were consulted to brainstorm ideas of situations where the app might come in handy.
Goertzen said he plans to update Velvet Steel with additional situations, while a similar application for women is currently in the works, and he hopes to have it released within the next year.
"We’ve had good feedback from females saying ‘even though it’s targeted for men, I can really use this, too’," he said.
He said when both apps are available, they’ll be especially useful for couples.
"There’s a lot of information on it for resolving conflict, going on a date, romance and sex – some of the typical things that couples struggle with," he said.