App Therapies


Using Mental Health Apps

From The Carlat Report

Computers have been used to support psychotherapy in many forms-email, video conferencing, texting and online or desktop program.  Mental health apps take this to another level because they work through a device that most people keep with them 24/7:  their smartphone.  Anyone can download programs from the app store on their smartphone.  There are apps that remind patients to take their medication, or that connect them to peer support networks.  There are apps that guide patients through behavioral psychotherapies, using audio/video narration or interactive programs.  There are even video game apps with therapeutic benefits.  Apps are becoming more widely used, but some apps are poorly designed without evidence or research support or some apps even give bad advice-like telling people with bipolar disorder to drink alcohol to sleep. Non-prescription that are the most evidence-based include:

App NamePurpose
Cognitive Behavioral TherapyIntellicare is a series of NIH-funded CVT-based apps for anxiety, depression and insomnia. The full suite is at and individual modules are in most app stores.
Deep BreathingBreathe2Relax teaches deep breathing exercises.
InsomniaCBT-iCoach is a free app that helps patients track their progress in CBT-Insomnia.
MindfullnessStop, Breathe and Think is an accessible mindfulness app. Other mindful options include Insight Time, Smiling Mind, iMindfulness and Mindfulness daily.
Mood ChartingDBSA Wellness Tracker teaches patient how to rate their mood in a daily chart. Most other mood trackers focus on emotions rather than symptoms that are more specific to mania and depression.
SuicidalityVirtual Hope Box reminds patients of reasons to live and employs CBT-based crisis survival skills for suicidality.
Med RemindersMedisafe was the top-ranked app in a systematic review of 272 options. For privacy, it can be used without registering.
Best Therapy App:Talkspace
Best Live Chat Session App:Betterhelp
Best for Couples App:Regain
Best for Teens App:Teen Counseling
Best for Peer Support App:7 cups of Tea
Some prescription FDA approved apps include:
Somryst-Results from the Somryst Pivotal Studies showed patients experience a significant reduction in severity of insomnia after treatment, with more than 40% of the patient group no longer meeting the criteria for insomnia.
reSET and reSET-O ConnectAbstience rates with the app vs usual care were 40% vs. 18%. It has 61 CBT-based educational modules which patients are supposed to complete 3-4 times a week. Patients get rewards, including gift cards, for sobriety. An interactive app using well-known behavioral techniques.
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