If you’re a therapist, you may be interested in using Mood Triggers with clients. Mood Triggers is a completely FREE Android application developed by Nick Jacobson at Penn State.
Why use Mood Triggers in Therapy?
Assessment is an important aspect of any therapy, in order to provide and synthesize a case with a client. Mood Triggers can aid in case conceptualization, while requiring minimal work on the therapist’s part.
Many cognitive-behavioral therapies (particularly for anxiety and mood disorders) ask clients to engage in symptom monitoring using daily homeworks. These diaries can offer useful insights into how a client experiences anxiety and depression in their daily life, but these assessments do not offer a rich case conceptualization without discussing the diaries in depth with the client.
- Electronic diaries of anxiety and depression. Mood Triggers offers all of the normal features of paper monitoring tools, but provides many new monitoring features that have great clinical utility and are easy to implement in practice. Client’s will be prompted once per hour on their phones. Therapists can then view peaks and trends’ to clients anxiety and depression.
- Automatic Sleep Monitoring. Persons with anxiety and depression often report difficutly with sleep hygiene (sometimes sleeping too little and sometimes oversleeping). Indeed, empirical research has shown that anxiety and depression are both linked to poorer sleep quality, and this contributes to greater symptoms severity. Mood Triggers will automatically monitor client’s sleep duration (and soon sleep quality). As a therapist, early in therapy you get a full record of a client’s sleep behaviors, allowing you to build sleep hygeine into the early stages of therapy.
- Automatic Step Monitoring. A hallmark symptom of depression is low behavioral activation, which can contribute to low physical activity. Mood Triggers automatically logs and keeps a record of clients steps to give clinicians a snapshot of their client’s activity levels throughout the day. Walking has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression in experimental studies, and Mood Triggers allows a therapist to know when to intervene.
Personalized and empirically based case conceptualizations
- Mood Triggers monitors a number of constructs that have been empirically related to anxiety and depression (like avoidance, helplessness, hopelessness, attentional biases any many others). By clicking a single button in the app, Mood Triggers will list the aspects that are most impactful in determining a clients anxiety and depression symptoms. These are presented in an easy to read list, and this can be used to inform treatment plans.
- Example 1: When a therapists clicks the results button, they see that the top symptom related to a given client’s anxiety is negative life events. This tells the therapist that the client’s anxiety is primarily driven by being overly reactive to stressors in their daily life. The therapist can then target stress reactivity first within treatment.
- Example 2: When a therapists clicks the results button, they see that the top symptom related to a given client’s anxiety is avoidance. The therapist can target avoidance behaviors immediately within the therapy, and work on a construction of a fear hierarchy to work on fear exposures.
- Example 3: When a therapist clicks the result button, they see that the top symptom related to a given client’s anxiety is heart rate. The therapist can see that the client is strongly reacting to their physiological arousal. The therapist immediately begin introceptive exposure to break the link between anxiety and physiological arousal.
- Example 4: When a therapist clicks the results button, they see that the top symptom related to a given client’s depression is fatigue. The therapist can work on intervention strategies to increase energy levels throughout the day with the client.
- Example 5: When a therapists clicks the results button, they see that the top symptom related to a given client’s depression is hopelessness. The therapist can work on a cognitive intervention targetting the client’s maladaptive thoughts about the future.
Sounds great, but isn’t this a lot of work?
No! We designed Mood Triggers to be easy to use, for both clients and therapists. Mood Triggers is designed to be a self-contained self-help tool.
Since Mood Triggers contains all the instructions needed to use the app within the app itself, all that would be required is to tell client’s the name of the Mood Triggers app, have them install it, and bring their phone in with them during the next therapy session.
A therapist can view a record of the client’s anxiety symptoms, depression symptoms, and health behaviors from one click on the home screen.
Accessing the personalized and empirically based triggers of that client’s anxiety and depression just requires that a therapist and look at the top of the list of triggers. If a trigger is green it means that as a client’s trigger goes up, their symptoms rises, if a trigger is red it means that as a client’s trigger goes up, their symptoms decreases.
Mood Triggers is a no-cost, useful assessment tool that can offer a therapist valuable insights into their client’s anxiety and depression symptoms, and requires only minutes of the therapists time.
Link to Mood Triggers on the Google Play Store