The New York Times recently commented on the trend of younger people using their mobile devices – smart phone and tablets – to track health information. I certainly have seen this in my practice and in my experience isn’t limited to the “younger” crowd. I work in a busy Neurology practice and focus on the treatment of chronic pain, PTSD and mood disorders using a holistic, mindful approach to therapy. I am learning to welcome the use of technology as an aid in therapy. I have become quite adept with the iphone/ipad, and droid platforms and found there are many free applications available which can support clients in completing homework between sessions, encourage coping skill practice and commitment to therapy.
Using technology during sessions has changed the dynamic between me and clients. I had traditionally asked clients – particularly adolescents to turn off their phones during sessions. I now encourage clients to not only keep their phones turned on but to collaborate in how their phones can be an active part of their path to wellness. Instead of sitting across from the client, I sit next to them to look at the apps together and have found technology supports rapport building and fosters a therapeutic alliance in a new and different way. The clients whom I have used either their phone or tablet with tend to return for follow-up sessions with feedback to share on their experiences and ask for additional recommendations. I had an adolescent tell me about an app that let him perform his own sleep study – a way to monitor his sleep rhythms during the night.
This is a new approach to counseling for me and has challenged me to remain mindful and to focus on both the client and the phone/tablet – it would be far too easy to become lost in the technology.
The use of apps in therapy is endless and required time on my part to familiarize myself with different platforms, identify favorite apps for different issues – Cozi is a great family calendar and Relax Melodies has a variety of nature sounds which can be layered to create your personalized nature relaxation.
Be sure to check out the Connecticut Counseling Association’s Conference where I will be facilitating a roundtable discussion – Is there an App for that? Hope to see you there!
Deb Del Vecchio-Scully is a counselor and writer who focuses on healing the mind, body and spirit. She specializes in PTSD, Chronic pain and mood disorders. For more information: www.anschealthandwellness.com