By Joan Normandy–Dolberg, LPC
Chair, Public Awareness, Advocacy, and Marketing Committee
I consider myself pretty tech-savvy. I owned one of the first Macs (that funny little box with 256 mg of memory), and I have always looked for ways to enhance my life and my practice through the use of technology.
I used Yahoo Business to create my professional practice website, I check my email from my phone, and I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and clients all over the world.
So naturally, when the iPad was introduced, I immediately looked for a way to incorporate this new technology into my life and practice.
Until recently I could not justify spending $500 or more on a luxury, but I follow several counseling blogs and was surprised to find that many apps for iPads may make it a worthwhile tool for both counseling clients and practice management.
An Introduction to Some of My Favorites
“PsychDrugs” and “PsychDx” are designed for the clinician; although they are limited in scope, they provide quick access to important information when writing reports or working with clients. “BrainTutor3D” helps clients visualize the brain and the physiological effect of trauma, drugs, medication, and meditation. Sometimes a picture, especially in 3D, is worth a thousand words!
When working with teens and adults who have learning/memory issues or cognitive impairment, I like “Brain Trainer” by Luminosity. This program/application provides a customized brain-fitness plan and personalized, fun cognitive exercises designed to help improve memory. I also recommend this to older clients who want to remain sharp in order to prevent or postpone dementia and/or Alzheimer’s.
A number of inexpensive apps are designed to teach cognitive behavioral skills and self-help strategies and to help manage stress and implement lifestyle changes. “Icounselor” has designed and sold more than 17,000 copies of their apps for anger management, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and eating disorders.
These apps more than just colorful, visually appealing, and easy to use. They are cleverly designed to help supplement the counseling process through providing an easy way to challenge those “automatic negative thoughts.” Similar programs by a variety of developers focus on reinforcing CBT skills to manage PTSD, addictions, and autism spectrum disorders.
If you are supervising individuals preparing for licensure, or if you are preparing for your licensing exam, “iTunes U” has a lecture series that includes 33 free podcasts to review for the counseling exam, created and recorded by Linton Hutchinson, PhD, LMHC, NCC. Each lecture is about an hour long and covers a variety of topics, and the series is a great supplement to any review program.
Check Out the Large Selection of
Guided Meditation and Visualization Apps
My personal favorite is “Simply Being—Guided Meditation for Relaxation and Presence,” by Meditation Oasis. It is simple enough for beginners and allows the individual to decide the length of the meditation and whether to include music or nature sounds. A number of my clients have reported that this app has taken the place of their sleeping pills.
And finally, if you are working with individuals who are struggling with substance abuse, two helpful programs are “StepsAway” and “iPromises.” “StepsAway” is part of the Arts and Entertainment Recovery Project (those folks who brought us the TV show “Intervention”), which is designed to break the stigma of addiction and raise awareness that addiction is a treatable disease and that recovery is possible. These apps use geo-positioning to help you find nearby meetings, including times and directions. They help individuals in recovery track their progress, easily contact others in recovery, and build a virtual support community. It provides daily positive messages and a visual journal.
I’m still hoping to find an app that will allow me to use the iPad to take notes during a session and then seamlessly upload them to electronic files, but so far I haven’t found it. I’m sure I am just beginning to discover what apps and programs are out there to help us.
Please email me at with your best and worst discoveries … I am looking forward to learning more about your favorites and sharing them in an upcoming Tips articles.