How Mobile Apps Can Help With Your Therapy

If you're receiving counseling, at some point your health care provider may ask you to consider using a mobile app to help with your therapy. Amanda Edwards-Stewart, the program lead for innovations at the Defense Department’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2), is also a board-certified clinical psychologist who uses apps with military patients. She sat down with us to share why she thinks mobile apps can be helpful, and how they can help people manage challenges like anxiety, anger and depression.

Q: Can mental health apps really help patients?
A: Health care providers have reported enjoying using apps in treatment. My patients have benefited from apps developed at T2 such as LifeArmor, T2 Mood Tracker, Breathe2Relax, Mindfulness Coach, Virtual Hope Box, Positive Activity Jackpot and PE Coach.

Q: What if I don’t use an app correctly?
A: Expect your health care provider to explain the app and help you use it. I always ask my patients whether they have an interest in using a particular app. I explain what it is and how it relates to their treatment. If they want, they can download the app during the appointment, and we go through the app together, on either the patient’s device or mine.

Q: What about privacy issues when I use an app? Is personal information about me collected and sent somewhere?
A: It’s reasonable to be concerned about privacy and confidentiality when you’re using mobile technology. You have a right to know whether your information is protected, so don’t be shy about asking. On T2 apps, your information is stored only on the device you’re using. The content is also encrypted, which makes the text unreadable to anyone who is not specifically authorized to read it. You get to decide who that is (if anyone).

Q: What if I don’t want to use an app, or don’t like it?
A: A provider shouldn’t pressure you to use an app if you don’t want to. Technology is great if you as a patient want to use it — or at least want to give it a try. These apps can help with your face-to-face therapy but they’re not a replacement, so feel free to say “no.” Also, just because you’re trying an app doesn’t mean you have to stick with it; you can stop using it if it doesn’t work for you.

Q: I’ve been going to therapy for a while and I’ve heard about some apps that might be useful for what I’m working on. But I don’t think my provider is into using smartphones.
A: Don’t be shy about asking your health care provider if a particular app might be helpful for you. As part of my job at T2, I train military health care providers how to use T2 apps. I tell providers they have an ethical obligation to be knowledgeable about psychological health apps, so they can offer them to their patients and help them use the apps if their patients are interested.

To learn more about psychological health apps that might be helpful for your therapy, check out the mobile apps page on T2’s website.

Posted by T2 Public Affairs


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