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Therapist in My Pocket – The Rise of Mental Health-Related Apps

person with cell phone

We often hear these days that technology is not our friend. Social media and the overuse of electronics has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Could there be a way, however, where technology actually helps to boost good mental health?

The advent of apps on smartphones has created great flexibility and convenience in our lives. New apps come out every week, and now there are apps for what seems like everything – from guides about beating the lines at Disneyland to apps that guide your golf putt so the ball drops straight in the hole, hopefully.

And yes, perhaps not surprisingly, there are apps for mental health as well. Although some are not so great and even shoddy, many come with tangible benefits. Some of them are free (or almost free), and they provide convenient and private tools towards wellness. They can even help you remember to take medication on time.

Although the list of mental health apps is endless, we have decided to choose the ones that we like the most, and we think can potentially be helpful and useful.

Here is a list of five free mental health-related apps that may be worth looking into:

1) Calm — My personal all-time favorite is the app, Calm. It was named the 2017 iPhone App of the Year. Not only does it have meditations and music, but a wide array of sleep stories that are a bedtime treat for adults. It’s like being a kid again and gaining access to the wonders of childhood. My favorite is a story that takes you through the fragrant lavender fields of Provence, France, and it sends me into a peaceful slumber every time. Sometimes I think I can smell the flowers in my dreams.

2) Pacifica — This app provides tools to combat anxiety and stress with cognitive-behavioral techniques, mindfulness, and mood tracking. There is also a community aspect to this app as well. What we like about this app is that it’s professional and detailed. The makers clearly consulted with experts in the process of development.

3) Recovery Record — This app is specialized for people who are recovering from an eating disorder. You can record meals, including what you were thinking and feeling while eating. The supportive functions of app also include reminders for mealtimes and supportive affirmations. Additionally, it even gives the user a reward for completing certain tasks.

4) CBT Thought Record Diary — In Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, the focus is on changing thinking as a means to change how we are feeling and behaving. This app will help you document this process. The goal is to make the CBT work easier to integrate into your daily routine.

5) Breathe2Relax — The American Psychological Association has recommended this app, especially for those with anxiety or suffering from the effects of PTSD. It leads you through breathing techniques to aid relaxation. What we like about the app as well is that it focuses on coping skills that are readily available and easy to use.

We know this list is just the beginning, and these are just a few of the many apps available. However, it should be noted that mental health apps could never replace actual one-on-one therapy. Pacific MFT Network values the in-person experience of working directly with a therapist that has a combination of expertise and empathy. Although apps can provide some great benefits, they should not be considered a replacement to traditional therapy. Instead, they are an added bonus.

And we can all use a bonus now and then. Why not put technology to good use?

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