The digital health revolution has changed how clients’ needs are dealt with in a number of ways. While mobile apps are used to improve physical health through strategies such as encouraging exercise and tracking symptoms of chronic conditions, these tools also have expanded into the field of mental health.
“Using technology during sessions has changed the dynamic…”Deb Del Vecchio-Scully wrote in a blog post for the American Counseling Association. “I had traditionally asked clients – particularly adolescents to turn off their phones during sessions. I now encourage clients to not only keep their phones turned on but to collaborate in how their phones can be an active part of their path to wellness.”
From apps that will help your clients manage their everyday stressors to mobile tools that can help address more serious problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), consider whether any of these 10 mobile applications for managing stress and anxiety could play a role in your work as a counselor.
1. What’s Up?
When clients seek your services, you are able to work with them during your sessions and hopefully equip them with tools to continue the work at home. But because you are not able to help them cope 24/7 in person, a mobile app like What’s Up? can be a useful solution between your sessions. This free app uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy methods to help the user cope with anxiety, stress and other negative emotions.
2. Free Relaxing Sounds of Nature
Sounds can have a profound impact on stress levels. While loud or grating noises can increase anxiety, soothing sounds can have the opposite effect. With the Free Relaxing Sounds of Nature app, your patients can have a collection of calming sounds at the tip of their fingers to help them unwind, prepare for a meditation session or even fall asleep faster.
3. Gratitude Journal
According to a Psychology Today blog article, research has shown that a great way to combat stress is to remember what you have to be thankful for. As it can sometimes be difficult for a person to be grateful in moments of anxiety, seeing these positive aspects actually written out can be helpful. The Gratitude Journal app gives your clients a convenient place to record what they are thankful for and retrain their brain to view situations in a more positive light.
As a counselor, you know that breathing is a valuable coping mechanism for moments of extreme anxiety or stress. While you may not always be around to help coach your clients through breathing techniques when they experience times of deep stress, with the Breathe2Relax app, they can have the next best thing. The app gives detailed instructions and exercises for diaphragm breathing to combat the body’s “fight or flight” reaction and consequently reduces stress levels.
5. Personal Zen
Focusing on the positive will not make the negative aspects of life go away, but it definitely can help to put those struggles in perspective. The Personal Zen app helps to train the user’s mind to improve overall well-being. Designed by a professor of psychology and neuroscience, the tool uses evidence-based techniques to reduce anxiety and build stress resilience in as little as a few minutes of use a day, several days a week.
6. The Worry Box
Your clients who are struggling to control their anxiety most likely have multiple concerns that are occupying their minds. While ignoring these issues altogether is not a long-term solution, now and then it can be helpful to symbolically put them away for a time. As the name suggests, the Worry Box app is a digital box that helps those with a lot on their mind. The user simply writes down the worry and drops it in the box. The notes can be reviewed later, which may be helpful as it allows your client to see that many worries do not actually come to pass.
7. Panic Relief
While a certain amount of stress is normal for anyone, sometimes your clients are dealing with more than just passing anxiety. Individuals with a panic disorder have a serious condition that needs to be addressed professionally. To help work through this condition between sessions, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends the Panic Relief mobile application. The tool was created by Marianne B. Geoffroy, a Danish psychiatrist who is also a specialist in cognitive therapy, to supplement treatment for panic, anxiety and stress disorders.
Occasionally, extreme stress and anxiety can lead to suicidal tendencies or attempts in your patients. Recommended by the American Psychological Association, the Relief Link app provides users with coping mechanisms and medication reminders, and even helps them to create a safety plan and track their moods and thoughts. The suicide prevention tool won a $50,000 prize at a White House conference in 2013.
9. Sleep Time
When a person is struggling with anxiety, a good night’s sleep may make a significant difference. However, stress often interferes with a person’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. The Sleep Time app provides relaxing soundscapes, such as gentle waves or a rain forest storm, to help users drift off quickly. It also creates reports on how soundly the person slept and wakes the user during the lightest portion of the sleep cycle. Rest will not make problems go away, but it may help your client to deal with these challenges more effectively.
10. CPT Coach
If the anxiety your client is dealing with is the result of PTSD, the Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) Coach app may be an effective tool to supplement treatment. This mobile app provides users with information about CPT, assignments and worksheets to complete between therapy sessions, the ability to track PTSD symptoms and more. It specifically is designed to be used in combination with professional help, not as a substitute.
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