Quite often in the therapy office these days, as you might expect, we work on ways to help people not be so attached to technology. Especially when it is at the detriment of their emotional health and their relationships. If you check your email or update your Facebook status before telling your significant other good morning, you might want to re-evaluate the role of technology, your computer, or your smart phone in your life.
This article is going to focus on some of the very positive things about smart phones. Even more so than computers, I have found dozens of applications which are designed to improve mental health, emotional functioning, pain management, and even relationships. I will discuss a few of my favorites here, and you can do a search in your own App Store and see what appeals to you.
First, let me start with some great reference material related specifically to emotional and mental health. These are great for both clients and therapists. Some I use often are Quick DSM, which gives a very abbreviated but helpful overview of various diagnostic areas. Psych Notes is another excellent tool for clinicians or clients who have an interest in the clinical side of therapy. It includes a number of assessment tools and screening instruments, such as the mental status exam, depression screening, and signs of alcohol abuse. These can be excellent references for students, as well. There are several other apps which function as assessment tools, such as WhatsMyM3, M3Depression Check. Probably the reference app I use most is Psych Drugs, and it gives a brief description of various psychotropic medications as well as typical dosage and side effects.
Some apps designed for specific mental health issues include eCBT Trauma, Eating Disorders, and PTSD Coach. For chronic pain clients, there are apps to track your pain levels and help you work with your doctor.
If you find journaling to be therapeutic, there are many applications which will allow you to keep a password-protected, private diary.
I often talk with clients about their habits with regard to eating, sleeping, and exercise. If you want to change your diet, the App Store has many tools to help you meet your goals. If you have trouble sleeping, you can find free hypnotherapy apps to help you sleep, or apps with sound effects to lull you into a relaxed state. And if you need some structure and motivation to exercise, you can find that, too.
Finally, when a client is dealing with something like brain injury, PTSD, or problems that can affect cognition and memory, doctors will often recommend brain games, puzzles, and apps that help you hone your reflexes and work out your brain. If you are a student and want to study at your very best, apps like BrainWave can help block out distracting sounds and help you concentrate with binaural tones combined with the sounds of nature.
So if you are a smart phone user, check out some of these helpful apps and see if you like them. Often they are free, or there are free limited versions. I welcome your comments below on ways you have found your smart phone can benefit your health.
* No app can replace the care of a physician or mental health professional when needed. This information is offered for educational purposes only. Please see your health care provider if you are experiencing a physical or mental health problem.
Video version of this article: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNl_ZpUcXAM