Can Web and Smartphone Apps Help OCD Sufferers?

Posted by tlashkari on Jul 30, 2014

Can your smartphone treat your OCD? Experts ranging from the Mayo Clinic to individual therapists think it just might.

A handful of smartphone and web-based apps have been developed to reinforce Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and some are tied to emerging therapies like Attention Retraining (AR). While Beyond OCD does not endorse or recommend any of these applications, we acknowledge that technology will play an ever-increasing role in OCD therapy. If you see an app you think might be of help to you, we encourage you to discuss it with your therapist first. Your therapist may find that one or another works well with your course of therapy, but using it should be a professional decision. While some of the apps have been tested in research studies, others have not. Prices for the apps range from free to well over $100 and some are only available for specific platforms like Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

Two clinical psychologists developed The Mayo Clinic Anxiety Coach, currently available only for Apple devices for $4.99 at the iTunes store. It starts with an assessment of symptoms and offers a treatment plan that addresses the circumstances that trigger the user’s symptoms. It tracks symptoms and lets users record and view their progress. It also offers over 500 activities to combat symptoms of anxiety and panic.

OCD Challenge is a self-help website that uses the principles of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). It has three modules that assess symptoms and triggers, identify obsessions and compulsions, and present activities to help prevent anxiety-producing reactions. It was developed by the Peace of Mind Foundation and is currently under study to assess its effectiveness. OCD Challenge is available as a free download at www.ocdchallenge.com.

Cognitive Retraining Technologies has developed several programs for treating anxiety disorders that use a method known as Attention Retraining. Information and downloads are available at managingyouranxiety.com. The programs are pricey at $139.99.

A number of smartphone apps are available for Apple devices like iPhones and iPads.

Live OCD Free is an interactive smartphone app based on ERP therapy that has separate versions for adults and children. It sells for $29.99. For 99¢, iCounselor OCD helps OCD sufferers learn skills to help with symptoms. OCD Manager is based on CBT and rational emotive behavior therapy and includes a “rational thinking” guide to help sufferers challenge some of their thought patterns. It’s $19.99 at the iTunes store.

While these smartphone apps are currently offered only for Apple devices, development of computer-assisted therapy is a rapidly growing field. Some different apps are available for Android devices as well, and the apps that were developed for Apple platforms may well be released as Android apps later.

Users of self-help programs such as these may find them effective, but they are more appropriately used as part of an ongoing treatment process with a trained OCD therapist.

Beyond OCD is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing OCD sufferers and their loved ones with the latest information about OCD, including the latest treatments and sources for counseling and therapy. We invite you to visit our website, BeyondOCD.org, to see the many opportunities we offer to help you get Beyond OCD.

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