The best Cognitive Behavioural Therapy apps / CBT apps

There’s lots of evidence that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is effective at treating anxiety, depression, phobias, hypochondria, PTSD and eating disorders.

Trouble is…whilst it’s free on the NHS, the waiting lists are huge; where I work, clients have to wait up to 6 months for treatment in some cases! Of course you can pay, but it’s pricey, sometimes up to £80 per hour session.

So?  How can you access CBT quickly and affordably?  The answer? CBT apps!

Below I’ve reviewed a few of the key apps for various disorders to help you find the best CBT apps on the market.

CBT-i coach – click here for free sleep app

The best insomnia app, built by Stanford University in the US and the National Centre for PTSD, so some good credentials. Features a sleep assessment, psycho-education about what to do to boost your sleep, a sleep diary to help you track your progress, alarms and reminders to encourage you to adhere to your prescribed sleep times and sleep prep behaviours, check lists for preparing your environment for sleep, caffeine management tool, motivational tools to help you get out of bed and go to at the prescribed time, relaxation exercises and tracks.

Mind Shift – click here for free anxiety app

Great app for managing anxiety, packed with some really useful techniques.  Features psycho education on anxiety, mindfulness exercises, relaxation audio tracks where you can choose from a female voice or male, visualisation exercises.  There are also tailored modules on managing test or exam anxiety, social anxiety, dealing with conflict, managing panic, dealing with perfectionism and performance anxiety.   Each of these modules includes a page to measure your own anxiety, a choice of  more helpful / rational thoughts to guide your thinking away from negative thoughts and towards realistic thoughts, the chill out tools listed above, but probably the most powerful advice is the Active Steps which provide lists of really effective worry management, panic management, graded exposure tips, behavioural experiments and preparing for big events.  The app also includes limited inspirational quotes.

Mood Tools – click here for free depression app / therapy app

This app has so much information on depression, the causes, types, but more importantly it has potted guides on how to treat depression, including guides on how to use the following evidence -based therapies on yourself, without a therapist.  Just pick one!

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy -although it focuses on challenging thoughts rather than modifying the behavioural side of things which is in a different section for some odd reason
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – how to learn to live with difficulties
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy – this is more useful for more complex difficulties like personality  and attachment disorders so I’m surprised it’s in here for depression but the information is great to apply to many disorders
  • Suicide Prevention – quite extensive plan to help keep yourself safe from self harm and suicide and a crisi plan for if things get too much
  • Lifestyle Changes – not a recognised ‘therapy’, more of an intervention but nevertheless very powerful, including suggested activities on socialising, exercise, nutrition, sleep and sunlight

The app also includes a depression test so you can measure how severe / frequent your depressive  symptoms are, videos on mental health, guided meditation tracks, relaxing tracks, an interactive thought diary (basically the one below) and suggested activities to boost your mood and interactive rating tasks.  It even helps you find a therapist from the BABCP website which is the accreditation organisation for therapists.

The app isn’t as interactive as some others however, which is a bit of a shortcoming, although it is so jam packed full of information that you’d be mad to not download it.

SAM app – click here for free stress and anxiety management app

A very interactive app written by the University of West of England so some smart cookies.  Includes an anxiety tracker, a social media ‘cloud’ where you can network with others, a space to list your anxiety provoking situations, but best of all lots of relaxation exercises, psycho-education about anxiety, some great interactive anxiety reduction exercises and tips, an app to audio-record your thoughts and listen to them back again.  Takes a while to find your way around but you can create your own ‘tool kit’ of your favourite techniques.

Thought Diary – click here for free thought challenging app

Very simple cognitive restructuring app which will be useful with most disorders. The app asks you to write down the situation you’re in, the emotions you’re experiencing and the level of distress they are causing, it then prompts you to identify the negative thought you have, and then to pinpoint the way in which the thought may be distorted.  It then gives you a choice of statements which can challenge the distorted though and then  prompts you to re-write an alternative point of view and reassess how distressed you then feel as a result.

Hope these free CBT apps help you, if there are any issues with the links, please let me know.

www.happii.uk is a website providing information about mental health and wellbeing.
Happii.uk is provided by Anna Batho, a therapist working in High Wycombe and providing therapy in Amersham and the wider Buckinghamshire (Bucks) region.
You can contact her here.

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