Frequently, therapists request clients to record their behaviors, triggers, and symptoms to help them become more aware of their reactions. These can include energy levels, medication taken, number of hours slept, anger outbursts, alcohol consumption, negative thoughts, etc.
Traditionally, this has been accomplished with notepad and pen, but it has proven to have low adherence rates to the regime and clients often have difficulty recalling the week in their therapy session. Self-monitoring “provides clinicians with a more contextualized understanding of patients’ struggles and an opportunity to tailor treatment accordingly.” Digital mood monitoring with smart phone apps offers a reliable and easy way for clients to track their symptoms themselves.
Since I’m cheap and I know you and your clients often are too, I chose to only review apps that are free. Here are the top 3 apps that showed the most promise reviewed from best to last.
T2 Mood Tracker
Available in Google Play Store and Apple App Store for free
T2 Mood Tracker was created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, and it is a very straight forward app. There are 6 categories that can be visible or hidden – anxiety, depression, general well-being, head injury, post-traumatic stress, and stress – with 10 anchors on sliders for each. Results are graphed on a simple line graph and reports can be created in PDF and CSV format as well as emailed straight from the app. A PIN can be added for security and a reminder can be set for 3 specific times during the day. I couldn’t figure out how to access notes or add/edit rating categories.
It is very straight forward and the email option as well as the well-informed anchors on each category look like it would be an excellent tool for therapists.
Personal Progress Tracker
Available in Google Play Store and Apple App Store (as PTracker) for free
Progress Tracker must be registered online before using. In this account, you can add lots of info about yourself as well as access various other resources. This app is extremely comprehensive. The Symptoms tab gives prompts for all major symptoms of the following diagnoses: OCD, anxiety/panic disorders, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, addiction/substance abuse, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, eating disorders, and insomnia. When a symptom is clicked it asks the user to give a rating (scales change from yes/no, number, low to high, etc) for the day as well as add optional notes. The user can add a custom symptom (“Custom Activity”), define the rating type, and under what category it goes.
The Activities tab allows for tracking of a number of things associated with mental health including medication taken, hours slept, stress level, exercise, drug and alcohol use, etc. There is, again, a place to add a custom section. The Reports tab allows for a variety of ways to run data. A detailed report gives all reported symptoms and activities for each day,. A summary report gives some basic statistics over a period of time, and you can also choose one symptom to focus on to see its change over time. Everything can be accessed and manipulated online and reports can be printed from there. Users can assign therapists who can access client reports online.
There are a few typos through the app, there is no way of sending reports from the phone but must be done from the computer, there is no reminder setting or security settings, which are big downfalls. It’s extremely comprehensive, which would be wonderfully helpful if the client were to fill it out completely, but I fear that many would be daunted by the enormity of it all and there is no way to hide unwanted categories.
ToadKing Mood Tracker
Available in Google Play Store for free
ToadKing is fantastically versatile. There is nothing preset, but the user must go into Edit Markers to create symptom, mood, activity, etc, categories. Once these are created (with the assistance of the user’s therapist, if applicable), data can be input on a 0-10 scale and notes can be added. Backlogs or editing previous days can be done with Modify Data. View History allows the user to generate text, line graph, or bar graph of individual markers for a month. From this screen the data can be emailed (or shared in any medium actually). Share Data on the main screen generates the chosen form and groups the text or graph images for each marker into a zip file when emailed.
This app requires the user (or therapist) to set it up before use, it doesn’t have a reminder or security features, and I would prefer if there were a way to change the rating type. However, it’s extremely versatile and so simple, making it easy to use.