The Latest "Ther-app-y":

Your smartphone can be a powerful tool for improving your overall mental health and wellness. Here are my picks for some of the best downloads. Many of these apps are available on all the leading smartphones and others are available on iPhones and iPads only.

Please feel free to email me with your personal favorites and I'll add them to the list. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Depression

Most of the apps for decreasing depression are based on CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and are designed to help increase 1) awareness of your mood changes throughout the day, 2) triggers to these mood changes, 3) identification of negative or irrational thoughts, and 4) help with changing these thoughts to more positive or realistic ones.

These are all great tools to use in conjunction with weekly therapy and can help you and a CBT-oriented therapist to make better progress in your treatment program.

  • iCouch CBT
    $1.99 by iCouch, Inc.
    This app uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to decrease anxiety and depression by training you to be aware of irrational or negative thoughts and to then change these thoughts to more realistic or positive ones. It will take you through a step by step process to examine upsetting thoughts and then confront and challenge them. You'll learn that as you change thoughts, you will also change emotions, feelings and behavior. The app also gives you the opportunity to track irrational thoughts during the week to discuss with your therapist in your in-person sessions.

  • MoodKit
    $4.99 by Thriveport, LLC
    MoodKit was developed by two clinical psychologists and is designed to help you apply effective strategies of CBT and professional psychology to your everyday life. It includes over 150 mood improvement activities, a thought checker, mood tracker, guidance to modify distressing thoughts, and a journal for mood ratings and note taking.

  • Live Happy
    $.99 by Signal Patterns
    Live Happy provides eight activities to help increase feelings of happiness. It's based on some of the principles of positive psychology that promote happiness, such as optimism, and it supports positive activities.
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  • kid CBT*ABC Way
  • teen CBT*ABC Way
  • adult CBT*ABC Way
  • TCC*ACC para ninos
  • TCC*ACC para jovenes
  • TCC*ACC para adultos
  • $6.99 each by TikalBayTek.
  • These apps for children, teens and adults are available in both English and Spanish. They are based on CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and are designed to help you pay attention to upsetting thoughts and negative patterns of thinking. You learn to challenge them with new - more reasonable or positive thoughts  - which will lead to healthier, happier emotions.   
  • MoodPanda
    FREE by Jake Greewood
    This app serves as a mood diary to track your mood throughout the day so that you can become more aware of what makes you happy and unhappy. It then plants a seed to help you plan on activities that will lift your mood and decrease feelings of depression.

  • Mood Swings
    FREE by Techark Slutions, Inc.
    This app increases your awareness of mood changes throughout the day and allows you to track and then process them with your therapist. If you're so inclined, it also allows you to track your feelings and share them through Facebook and Twitter with expressive images.

Note: Research in the field of Positive Psychology shows that activities or exercises that increase feelings of gratitude, optimism, forgiveness, love, zest for life, or even humor can promote a sense of happiness and well-being. Look for applications that support any of these strengths - even apps that make you laugh and bring more humor into your life can have great value.

Anxiety

Most of the apps for decreasing anxiety are also based on CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and are designed to help increase 1) awareness of your anxiety and worried, nervous thoughts throughout the day, 2) the triggers to these changes, 3) and help with changing these thoughts to more positive or realistic ones. If you are struggling with any type of anxiety, phobia, anger management, insomnia, or substance abuse, please also see the list below of applications for meditation and relaxation.

  • PTSD Coach
    FREE by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
    PTSD Coach is for people with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and those interested in learning more about PTSD. It offers education about PTSD, self-assessment, opportunities to find support, and tools to help users manage the stressors of daily life. Tools range from relaxation skills to positive self talk and include many other self-help strategies including anger management techniques.

  • Anxiety Forum Help
    FREE by Evolution 2 Media
    AnxietyForum.net is a web-based support forum with resources for overcoming anxiety, phobias, and panic attacks. This free app gives you instant access to the forum including the ability to post to discussions, track favorite discussion topics, read about the research discoveries and book reviews, access tips on managing anxiety, examine therapy treatment options, and gain peer support.

  • iCouch CBT
    $1.99 by iCouch, Inc.
    This app uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to decrease anxiety and depression by training you to be aware of irrational or negative thoughts and to then change the thoughts to more realistic or positive ones. This app will take you through a step-by-step process to examine upsetting thoughts and then challenge them. You'll learn that as you change thoughts, you will also change emotions, feelings and behavior. The app also gives you the opportunity to track irrational thoughts during the week to discuss with your therapist in your in-person sessions.

Weight Loss Applications

Weight loss applications can be used to support structured commercial programs, such as Weight Watchers, or they can be used on their own. These apps serve to 1) increase your awareness of caloric intake and output, 2) track calories quickly and efficiently, 3) improve your nutritional knowledge to support healthy food choices, and 4) provide motivational support and structure.

  • Lose It!
    FREE by FitNow
    This app starts with calculating your daily caloric allowance based on your age, height, weight, exercise levels, and weight loss goals. Throughout the day, you log in meals and snacks to track calories. It includes a comprehensive data base of foods so you can look up calories and nutritional information quickly and then save the information to your favorites so you don't have to search again. It also allows you to calculate the benefits of any exercise you do during the day to increase your daily caloric allowance.

  • My Fitness
    FREE by MyFitnessPal.com
    This is a fast and easy way to count calories. It claims to have the largest food database with over 2 million food entries (including fast foods), it has a recipe calculator and you can save or memorize favorite meals. It includes a bar code scanner to look up nutritional information and to track all major nutrients. You can also diet with friends by tracking and supporting each other's program.

  • Diabetes Nutrition
    FREE by Fooducate, Ltd.
    Fooducate grades your groceries, explains what's really inside each product and offers healthier alternatives to people living with diabetes. You can also scan a product's barcode to learn about its carbs, net cards, trans fats and other nutritional values. It includes a tool for creating a healthy shopping list.

  • Fooducate
    FREE by Fooducate, Ltd.
    Fooducate grades your groceries, explains what's really inside each product, and offers healthier alternatives. You just scan the bar code of any food product with your phone's camera and you'll get an instant assessment of its nutritional value such as excessive sugar, tricky trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, additives, preservatives and food colorings. It will offer healthier alternatives and help you create shopping lists.

  • Footsteps Free
    FREE by Palm Shadow
    This app gives you a convenient pedometer to use on your daily walk to track distance, duration, speed, and calories burned. There are many other great apps for fitness and exercise that you can find by doing a simple search.

Meditation & Relaxation

There are hundreds of possible downloads for meditation that can provide you with structure and support as you gain knowledge and confidence in meditative techniques and practices. Research continues to reflect many significant benefits of meditation for both mental and physical health such as improving mood, stress, focus, concentration, sleep, blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol, and chronic pain. When people are new to meditation they often worry that they are not doing it right or they are not sure if it's working. These apps can help by offering instruction, structure and support. By making meditation a regular part of your daily routine, you should start to notice positive results within a few weeks.

Note: You'll hear a lot about "mindfulness meditation" and may wonder what that means and how it differs from regular meditation. Mindfulness simply refers to focusing on the present rather than the past or the future. For example, the simple exercise of concentrating on your breath is considered a type of mindfulness - by relaxing and focusing on only the breath, and the sensations as it enters and leaves your body, you divert attention away from anxious, stressful thoughts.

  • Mindfulness Meditation
    $1.99; narrated by Stephen Bodian, author of Meditation for Dummies
    This app offers six meditations ranging from five to 40 minutes with tips on effective mindfulness techniques.

  • Yoga with Janet Stone
    $4.99 with Janet Stone
    This app includes 3.5 hours of video and five hours of audio instruction by yoga teacher, Janet Stone. It includes 13 meditations that you can use with or without yoga practice. If you'd like to try the yoga, you can select your fitness level and your fitness goals such as strength or flexibility. The audio and video guides instruct and lead you through all the moves for a complete yoga session whether you are a beginner or more advanced.

  • Relax and Rest Guided Meditations
    $.99 by Meditation Oasis
    You can choose from three meditations - a five minute, 13 minute or 24 minute program and you can customize them with your own preferences such as the type of background music or the nature sounds that you prefer.

  • Relax Melodies
    FREE by iLBSoft
    This free app allows you to customize a sound mix from 46 different nature sounds to help you slip into a state of deep relaxation or sleep. It's advertised as a cure for insomnia and claims to have over 5,000,000 users.

  • Relax and Sleep Well
    FREE by i-mobilize
    This free app is a 27-minute hypnosis recording by a bestselling self-help audio author, Glenn Harrold. His recording is designed to help you alleviate stress and anxiety and reduce insomnia.

  • Meditation 4 Inner Wisdom
    Free by i-mobilize
    This is another free app by best-selling author and hypnotist, Glenn Harrold. The 37-minute guided meditation is designed to help you relax and connect with a feeling of inner wisdom and spirituality.

  • Buddhify
    $2.99 by 21awake
    This lighthearted, playful app is advertised as the "urban meditation app for modern life" and is designed for use by busy people on the go. You can practice mindfulness meditation whether you are in the gym, on the bus/train, at home, or walking. You can select your location, amount of time, and any other preferences.

En-JOY and Be APP-y!