Sunday, May 29, 2011

Do some of your clients need social support? Let's talk about the Anxiety, Depression and Bipolar Connect apps

By now everyone knows about Facebook! Approximately 500 million people have used the site to connect to others. In my opinion, the statistic speaks to many peoples' need for social connectedness.

This blog post, however, is not about Facebook. It is about Alliance Health Networks. The company has built a series of applications that harness the power of online social networking, and adapted them to help those struggling from depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety (and other medical conditions). The social support apps allow members to share their thoughts and struggles and receive feedback from others in the community.

While I personally do not know if these type of applications are helpful (scientifically speaking - and please correct me if I am wrong). The fact that many individuals are using the apps is a good sign.  For now, I can only praise Alliance Health Networks for making these tools available free of charge. Have any of you referred these applications to clients? Do you foresee positive or negative outcomes? 

You can download the iPhone App of your choice free [here]
Sylvain Roy, Ph.D.
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

PsycExplorer: The app that brings you the latest news, blogs, videos, podcasts and tweets in psychology

I have recently began to read news articles and blogs, watch videos, and at times, follow "tweets" using my copy of PsycExplorer, an iPhone application designed to help you stay connected to the world of psychology. The app's content is highly informative, and its design makes browsing fun and easy. 

I must admit that what impressed me the most about the application is Dr. Britt's relentless efforts in keeping the contents of the application relevant and up to date. He relies on numerous sources of information such as the New York Times Health and CBS News Health. In addition, the videos are carefully selected, which means that users don't have to look too far to find good content.

I highly recommend this application. It is great for students and professionals who want to stay informed about psychology.

You can download a copy the iPhone application [here]
You can download a copy of the iPad version [here]
For more information, you can visit Dr. Michael Britt's website [here] 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Need help getting your life back on track?

II recently downloaded a copy of MoodKit, a new Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) application for iPhone. It includes several tools that are cleverly designed to help individuals get the most out of their life.

What I find unique about this application, is its ability to get people to "commit" to tasks or activities that are problem areas. For example, if bad eating habits are problematic, the app provides suggestions or attainable goals, which the person can commit to.

In my opinion, the application will profoundly change how people interact with their iPhone. The person, not some third party, ultimately decides the level of energy and engagement that will be invested in the process of change. Autonomy is an important ingredient in motivation, the desire to change, and the ability to follow through with the therapeutic exercises.

In my next blog post on the MoodKit application, I will discuss the remaining tools including the "Thought Checker", used for cognitive restructuring, the "Mood Tracker" that can track mood over time, and the "Journal" which allows users to make open-ended journal entries.

For more information visit Dr. Dorian & Dr. Erhardt's [website]
To purchase the iPhone application [click here]

Friday, May 20, 2011

SmallTalk Aphasia: Free, simple & potentially life changing?

Aphasia is an acquired language disorder, which can occur after a brain injury such as a stroke. Lesions to different areas of the brain can result in qualitatively different impairments (i.e. difficulty expressing or comprehending language).

Psychologists who have worked with such patients know all too well the debilitating effects it can have on someone's life. Often times, the patient can understand what others are saying, but simply lack the ability to communicate through speech or writing. Several of the patients I have worked with became depressed, withdrawn and isolated after their stroke. Fortunately, certain patients can benefit from augmentative or alternative communication (ACC).

To that end, technology can sometime help patients regain some basic communication skills. Today, I would like to introduce several small, but potentially life changing, iPhone applications created by [Lingraphica]. One of the FREE apps called [SmallTalk Aphasia] allows patients to scroll through common phrases designed to facilitate communication such as, "I have aphasia, I had a stroke, I have trouble speaking, yes, no etc." Other similar apps such [SmallTalk ADL] include common phrases related to activities of daily living. Pictures are provided beside the text to facilitate communication if reading is difficult.

There are other, more complex tools such as [Speak it], which will actually say the text you write. These type of apps are undoubtedly useful to patients who have retained the ability to write.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

PAR Concussion Recognition & Response, heard of it?

PAR is at it again! I just downloaded the newly released iPhone application called Concussion Recognition & Response, Coach & Parent version. I will be exploring the application's features in the next few days and report back to you. It is priced at $3.99, but will soon go up to $4.99.

"PAR will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this app to support concussion research at the Children‘s National Medical Center and the Matthew A. Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center." This is a very generous offer. The app is compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, & Android devices or tablets!

PAR's [webpage] or [PowerPoint]
To download the iPhone app [click here]
To download the iPad app [click here]
For a link to the Android Market place [click here]
Creators: Gerry Gioia, PhD. & Jason Mihalik, PhD.

Monday, May 16, 2011

PTSD Coach

The Department of Veterans Affairs recently released [PTSD Coach] for iPhone. The application is designed for individuals suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and those interested in learning about it. It eloquently provides information about PTSD, contains a self assessment tool, as well as information about treatment.

The learning tool
 includes a definition and causes of PTSD, prevalence, risk factors and treatment modalities. The assessment tool contains 17 questions that describes common symptoms and contains a rating program. The assessment can be repeated, and the severity of symptoms can be plotted on a graph to show the evolution of distress. The management tool asks, "What's Wrong" (reminded of trauma, avoiding triggers, disconnected from people or reality, sad & hopeless, worried & anxious, angry, unable to sleep). For each problem area, the person is asked to rate the level of distress using a rating scale and provides tools such as progressive muscle relaxation, tips to help falling asleep, positive imagery, and reminders to distract oneself. Finally, the find support tools offers phone numbers and links to various organisation. More information can be obtained on their [website].

Friday, May 13, 2011

iCBT review

Over a month ago, I announced that I would be reviewing iCBT. I have been using it for some time now, and I must admit that I am pretty impressed with it. From a clinical standpoint, the application is appropriate for individuals suffering from anxiety, depression and a host of other problems where cognitive distortions are at the core of the person’s difficulties. The iPhone application is very user friendly and I suspect the iPad version is even easier to navigate.

When you click on the app, you are automatically brought to the iCBT events page. This is where you can help your client put his or her thoughts into words. An example is provided. It reads, “I said something negative about my Boss to a coworker, now I’m sure I’ll get fired”. Once you click on the event, a new page appears. The client is then able to label and rate the intensity of his or her feelings and write down negative thoughts. The rationalize button will bring up all the negative thoughts associated with the original event. Clicking on these will bring you to a final page, where the client will be prompted to go through a list of distortions such as, “A mental filter, Blind to the positive, Negative labeling etc.”. A definition of each distortion is provided by pressing, “description”.

To download iCBT for iphone [click here]

To download iCBT for iPad [click here]
To go to the Product Personas webpage [click here]

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Is there an app you want reviewed?

I'm currently in the process of updating my list of apps after being away for some time. I'm looking for ideas about applications to review for next month. Is there an app you thought would be appropriate for your practice? I will soon start looking more carefully at Blackberry apps, since RIM made it possible for me to test their products using their developers emulator.