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Behold the Rise of Phone and IPod Self-Help Therapies

29 Oct

More and more we’re seeing a spike in the use of self-administered therapies and wellness programs.  Each week my cubby at the NIH library loads piles o’ new research abstracts testing the efficacy of various internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and guided imagery programs for conditions like anxiety, depression, caregiver stress, PTS, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and fatigue from MS, cancer treatments and the like.

It’s the same with the digital treatments – lots of research on various mind-body resources - meditation, guided imagery, relaxation and the like - when delivered electronically through iPods, MP3’s and mostly phones.  

All this is a huge shift in emphasis that seems to have happened overnight, although not really – the Aussies were developing first-rate web-based programs in a serious way over a decade ago.

The US Army is certainly interested, because soldiers use their smart phones for just about everything, and there just aren’t enough practitioners around to meet the need.  And, of course, a lot of service members are averse to seeing a therapist anyway, either because of distrust or stigma or both.  

And the studies are showing that a lot of these self-help interventions are getting the job done remarkably well – sometimes as well as a live human.  (Sorry, live humans, but the truth will set us all free.)  Often it’s with back-up help from a live human – maybe a check-in call once a week from a clinician - but the bulk of the work is done at the screen, at whatever time is convenient to the end-user.

We’re all watching this with great interest.  It’s why we developed our bodacious Sleep App, just to have a model to test and prepare with.  It’s pretty fancy – has a lot of bells and whistles (a wake-up timer, etc etc) and basically functions like a high quality Apple iPod.  Eventually we’ll be doing a lot more titles with this.

In the meantime, CDs will be with us for a little while longer, and our TBI Comeback Kit is helping a lot of people with brain injuries, concussions and strokes.  It combines our TBI imagery, designed to help with coordination, balance, memory, concentration, word retrieval, fatigue, agitation, mood swings and self-esteem; with our bestselling imagery for Healthful Sleep and Headache, two of the most commonly associated complaints.

Truth is, it was hard to limit this particular pack to just three titles. TBI is such a complex and challenging condition, we could easily have included our imagery for Self-Confidence, Depression, Anger & Forgiveness and Healing Trauma (PTSD). But we figure the three we picked is a great place to start.

Cindy also wants you to know that our terrific new CD to help kids deal with outsized emotions that are overwhelming them - I Am The Sky!  by Tami Peckham -is now in the warehouse, and we’re already getting rave reviews about it. It’s a brilliant gem of an audio program that artfully creates a hypnotic healing story to address feelings metaphorically. It’s clinically sophisticated, but powerfully appealing too. This will help a lot of kids and teens (not to mention their parents, too).

We also now have the very excellent Stress-Proof Your Brain by Rick Hanson which has some very creative and unique guided meditations – definitely not the usual – alongside his wonderfully clear explanations about the workings of the brain and why this approach works so well for emotional reactivity and stress.  He’s got a very comfortable, authentic, easy-going style and the 2-CDs are packed with uplifting, life-enhancing imagery.  

Okay, that’s it for now.  Take care and be well.  

All best,

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award