Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a highly effective therapy used to treat or alleviate everything from smoking cessation to anxiety disorders. Recent research has investigated how mobile phones could be utilized in CBT with some very promising observations.
- A community health center incorporated mobile phones as part of a 12 week anti-obesity weight loss program by sending weekly SMS messages about diet, exercise, and behavior modification. About half the participants completed the program and of those, over two-thirds had a reduction in waist circumference.
- One study set out to use a mobile app to deliver a computerized CBT program for depression without accompanying therapy and minimal instruction. The researchers had success with almost 2 out of 3 participants completing the program and experiencing significant benefits with their depression both at completion and 3-months following the end of the program.
- Still yet another study including SMS messages as part of a CBT program confirmed that the use of mobile phones is practical for low-income individuals. Furthermore, the study also received optimistic feedback about the SMS messages that suggested an improvement in self-efficacy. The text portion was so successful that some patients specifically requested to not be removed from the messages and after completion of the program, a few patients asked to keep receiving the SMS messages.
- A review of multiple studies using mobile phones described them as “an ideal treatment augmentation/delivery device” due to their numerous benefits like familiarity, ease of use, and widespread popularity. Other benefits include delivering coping statements, sending recommendations for care, near real-time monitoring, prompting homework completion, and even increasing therapeutic alliance through the perception that the practitioner is more supportive by being easily contacted.
Given the broad utility of both CBT and mobile phones, it is very encouraging to see that research is finding many advantages in using mobile texting and applications to enhance CBT to both the benefit of both patients and practitioners.