Five Tips for Using Mobile Apps in Therapy

With the explosion of mobile apps on the market, clinicians now have at their fingertips some incredible tools for improving care for their patients. Now, I’m not talking about using Angry Birds in therapy. I’m talking about legitimate, well-made apps that integrate evidence-based practices. But before you rush out and download any old app, here are five tips to help clinicians who want to use apps in therapy:

1. Always put evidence-based practices first.

Just because you find a fancy app doesn’t mean that it’s a part of evidence-based practices. It’s important to be clear about what type of therapy you are providing, and find an app that aids in the delivery.

2. Think of what tools would be valuable to you and your patients.

There are so many tools available through apps. It’s important to think about, within the evidence based practices that you already use, what tools would be useful for you and/or your patients. Because so many options are available, it’s important to focus first on the tools you want and then seek out the apps that best provide those tools.

3. Read the reviews.

Great apps get lots of reviews. Check out reviews on all apps before using them. For free apps, it sometimes works to download it and practice it on your own first. But for the many apps that charge a fee, it’s better to read the reviews before wasting money on it.

4. Take the time to practice the app outside of therapy.

Once you’ve chosen the apps you want to use in therapy, get to know the app inside and out. Use it, practice it, and customize it if that option is available. You want to be able to introduce the technology seamlessly into the therapy, rather than clunk around while the patient is in front of you. It will decrease your anxiety and increase your confidence about the value of the app as a tool for therapy.

5. Decide whose device you want to use.

Will it be the patient’s device, your device they can’t take home, or your device that they can bring home? Having a patient use their own device is ideal since they will always have access to it and they are responsible for the security of the information on the device. However, some provider’s may have the ability the supply patient with devices for use in office and/or at home.

Christina Armstrong, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and subject matter expert at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2). Dr. Armstrong has provided clinical services to children, adolescents, and adults for a broad range of conditions such as PTSD, traumatic brain injury, substance use disorder, and autism spectrum disorders.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Center for Telehealth & Technology, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
Read other posts by Dr. Christina Armstrong