12 Aug

Yes – There’s an app for that!

Technology has come a very long way in the last few decades. Smartphones have become ubiquitous, changing the way we listen to music, watch TV, connect with friends and potential romantic partners, and even the way we keep up with our mental health. Often the conversation around phone use and mobile applications is negative. Social media, in particular, often gets a bad reputation for perpetuating bad habits – procrastination, social isolation, gossip, envy, vanity—the list goes on. However, technology has indeed come a very long way, and there are now countless apps that can help promote and encourage healthy habits. 

The apps featured below are intended to be a sampling of the hundreds available in the app store. These were chosen based on ease of use and appropriate application of psychological principles. It is important to recognize that while mental health apps may be based on psychological concepts, they are never a replacement for help from a trained professional. They are often too general to address your specific needs. Talk to your therapist about whether these or other apps might be a useful adjunct to your current treatment to reinforce positive coping between sessions.

Disclaimer: The apps featured below are examples provided for educational purposes. If you have questions about whether these are appropriate for you or your child, please ask your therapist. Some apps may require subscriptions or in-app purchases. Please read the terms and conditions carefully.

Spiritual Meditation:

Abide (Available on iOS and Android)

Abide is a Christian-based meditation app which tackles a number of mental health topics such as anxiety and worry, depression, managing stress, insomnia, discovering purpose, addiction recovery, forgiveness, parenting, relationships, health, and finances. The guided meditations are based on Scripture and stories from the Bible. You will find guided imagery, meditation music, daily reminders, bedtime stories, prayer plans, and much more. Some meditations are free, but to access the full library, you will need a subscription ($39.99 per year after free 7-day trial).

Anxiety:

Rootd (Available on iOS and Android)

Rootd is an app specifically for coping with panic attacks and anxiety. It combines psychoeducational elements to teach you about anxiety and panic attacks with in-the-moment coping strategies. It includes a breathing tool and a visualization tool to promote deep breathing and relaxation. There is even a bright red panic button for those times when a panic attack hits! This tool walks you through an attack by helping you de-escalate. You’ll have access to all the above if you don’t wish to pay anything extra. For a fee, there are short- and long- term lessons that claim to help you eliminate panic attacks by educating you about lifestyle habits that perpetuate anxiety. 

Improving your Relationship:

Gottman Card Decks (Available on iOS and Android)

Created by the Gottman Institute, this app is based on the work of Drs. John and Julie Gottman – renown pioneers in couples therapy research. This app is perfect for couples looking to improve their emotional connection and communication to push past questions like “What do you want to eat for dinner?” Shuffle through their card decks to find ideas for “Open-Ended Questions,” “Sex Questions to Ask a Man/Woman,” “Rituals of Connection,” “Expressing Empathy,” and many many more. Plus, it’s free!

Guided Skills: Grounding, Deep Breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Stop, Breathe, & Think (Available on iOS and Android)

If your therapist has ever taught you deep breathing exercises or talked to you about grounding strategies, then you probably understand how valuable it is to check in with your body during periods of acute stress or anxiety. However, sometimes it is hard to engage these techniques in those critical moments! Stop, Breathe, & Think has a ton of free, guided sessions to walk you through breathing exercises, connecting with your body, finding your focus, taming your anxiety, slaying your stress (how great does that sound?), cultivating kindness and compassion, and more. If you prefer self-guided breathing or meditation, there are options for that too! There are plenty of sessions available for free, but if you prefer to access their entire collection, you can subscribe to their premium service.

Mood Tracking:

Daylio (Available on iOS and Android)

Daylio makes journaling fun and easy! The app prompts you to log your mood daily, then – and this is critical – it asks about the activities you engaged in during the day. Over time, the app is able to show you which activities tend to elevate your mood, and which ones may be draining you. You can create goals for yourself (like exercise more often) based on the existing list of activities, or you can create your own goals! Like many other apps, you’ll get a variety of options with the basic service and a premium membership will unlock more features.

Dr. Amy King took the time to compile this helpful list with the knowledge that her clients can use this technology to augment their counseling sessions. Ask your counselor if these tools are useful for what you are working on together!

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