What are apps and how do they relate to therapy
Apps are software applications that have been created for use on mobile phones, tablets and wearable technology devices. Popular examples include Whatsapp for
communications, Snapchat for sharing images with friends, or games like Candy Crush – these are all apps that many people use on a daily basis. These days there is an app for everything, including mental health services, but the question is are they any good?
The first thing to note about using apps for therapy is that they are never a replacement for direct services with a professional. A psychologist is a fundamental resource for assisting with any sort of mental health, communication or social skills difficulties. They have the training, knowledge and experience to be able to guide you through the therapy process to reach your goals, whatever they may be.
Having said that, mental health apps are becoming more and more developed these days, and it is becoming more common for apps to be used as an addition to therapy.
Why use apps as part of therapy
One of the benefits of using apps as part of the therapy process is the accessibility. 46% of children 6-13 years old have used a mobile phone, and 33% even have their own phones these days. This means that they can access their mental health apps quickly, easily and as they need them.
They are also great for privacy as many adolescents are increasingly communicating the desire for virtual, remote and/or digital services in order to be able to access their therapy independently. This can also mean less chauffeuring to and from appointments for parents, which makes life easier for everyone.
Another advantage of using apps with therapy is that they are a great way to reinforce the session content outside of direct appointments. This means that a person is able to continue working on their goals in between appointments with their practitioner.
And lastly apps are a very useful way for practitioners to be able to monitor a persons progress. This helps to determine when a persons therapy goals should be varied, shifted or have been reached.
What are the downsides of therapy apps
The potential major downsides to therapy apps are security and privacy. It is important to be aware of the security features of a particular app and how the information you enter is being stored and used. And it is also very important to ensure that the information you enter in an app remains private.
These elements mean that deciding to use apps as part of a therapy process is very dependant on the individual user, the purpose of the app, how well developed it is and how it combines with the regular therapy process.
To app or not to app
The best way to decide whether to use apps as part of your therapy process is in conversation with your practitioner. Your psychologist will be able to recommend particular apps that are functional, effective, evidence-based and safe. And most importantly they will work to find the right apps for you!