Best CBT Apps

Tuesday, 17 Nov 2015 @ 5:36 PM. By Elizabeth Han.

The best apps for cognitive behavioural therapy focus on the workhorse of the genre: the automatic thought record. The automatic thought record allows us to record our thoughts and feelings as they are, to recognize common errors of thinking in those entries, and finally to challenge the automatic thoughts with new ways of seeing the situation.
Traditionally, patients kept their tables on paper, incorporating but not restricted to the following column headings: situation, emotion, emotion intensity, automatic thought, cognitive distortion, and balanced or alternative thought. But with technology, you can keep the thought record right in your pocket.

1. Pacifica

Free, $3.99/month for all features
Click here for Copefully’s detailed exploration of Pacifica

fbAbove all an app for mental health should be beautiful, sleek, easy to use. If not, when you’re feeling slowed down and blah, what’s the incentive to use it?

Pacifica is a full-featured suite of goodies — track your mood, represented in stunning graphs and pictorials. Its relaxation tools, including paired muscle relaxation and paced breathing, feature lush and engaging audiovisual content. I come back to this one again and again. My patients agree it’s wonderful to use.

Pros: Visually stunning, voice-based input available, reminders, can record exercise/sleep/etc., includes relaxation tutorials
Cons: Verging on feature bloat, not all features free

2. Thought Diary


screen322x572If there’s any notion that a thought record has to be complicated or have a billion columns to work, let us disabuse ourselves of it now. Thought Diary does exactly what it says in the name — no more, no less.

If the major pull of a CBT app for you is to replicate a paper thought diary in electronic form, this may be your best bet.

Pros: Free, simple
Cons: Very basic tutorial, no visuals, no reminders

3. WayForward


screen322x572 (1)WayForward combines psychoducation and recording tools in a very thoughtful way. Through animated video tutorials, learn about the origins of anxiety and the logic behind CBT. I find it to be one of the most charming and friendly of the apps.

Pros: Free, simple
Cons: Very basic tutorial, no visuals, no reminders

4. Catch It


screen322x572 (2)Another app that keeps it simple. Catch It by the University of Liverpool walks you through three stages of the thought record: catch it, check it, change it. The interface allows you to easily find a mood, rate it, and record alternate ways of perceiving the situation. My main gripe is that the text input is mostly in one big box with no way to separate individual thoughts without creating a new entry.

Pros: Free, simple, good examples
Cons: No visuals, no reminders, text input structure could be better

5. Pen and Paper

Free. Always.

There is definitely something about writing that makes things stick. The biggest problem I find with a paper record is that individual pages get lost. What everyone needs is a dedicated hardback notebook for thought records and any other therapy work. It’s a symbolic investment in getting better. A safe place you can return to again and again.

Pros: Free, customizable
Cons: No visuals, no reminders, strong initiative required