Need Therapy? Consult Your Phone

Is that a therapist in your pocket or are you just really well-adjusted? You may be able to use that line very soon because mobile therapy apps are on the way. Just imagine—you might not have to pay $200 an hour to talk about your problems. You can just pop out your iPhone and a virtual therapist can offer you some perspective. Real therapists speculate that mobile mental health apps will be a great addition to ongoing in-person therapy, but not a total substitution. Some therapy apps are being designed to help patients track moods or even predict psychotic breaks. The exciting thing is that virtual therapy will be available 24/7 unlike even the best therapists. After the jump, three new mobile therapy apps that are in the works. All that will be missing is the couch. App Name: Mobile Therapy
Developed By: Dr. Margaret Morris, a clinical psychologist working for Intel
How It Works: You can map your moods, energy levels, sleep patterns, activities, and food intake on a daily basis. Based on the info, the app will offer you therapeutic exercises like guided relaxations or suggestions about how to disengage from a stressful situation. The idea is that you look at your week in moods and see a connection about what’s going on in your life and how it affects your mental state.
Best For: Anyone. If you have severe problems or you are just a human being living your life this app could be helpful to gain self-awareness, insight, and develop strategies for dealing with stress.

App Name: Mobile Mood Diary
Developed By: Alan Delahunty, a psychotherapist from Ireland, and Mark Matthews at Trinity College in Dublin
How It Works: This app is a support tool for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps change behavior by changing thoughts. An important component of CBT is daily homework, part of which involves patients charting their daily moods, energy levels, sleep patterns, activities, and thoughts. The patients can track this information and print out the mood diary to bring to weekly therapy sessions.
Best For: Teenagers. It makes CBT homework more fun and engaging for them. Kind of like glorified texting.

App Name: CBT MobilWork
Developed By: Judy Callan at the University of Pittsburgh and scientists at Carnegie Mellon
How It Works: This app lets patients check off CBT homework as it’s completed and prompts and coaches the patient on to the next step.
Best For: Adults with severe depression. They are hoping to expand this app to be used to treat anxiety, phobias, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. [NPR]