Graduate School of Education and Psychology

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apps, cognitive behavioural therapy, cognitive restructuring, digital health, mental health apps, mobile apps


Mental health (MH) apps can be used as adjunctive tools in traditional face-To-face therapy to help implement components of evidence-based treatments. However, practitioners interested in using MH apps face a variety of challenges, including knowing which apps would be appropriate to use. Although some resources are available to help practitioners identify apps, granular analyses of how faithfully specific clinical skills are represented in apps are lacking. This study aimed to conduct a review and analysis of MH apps containing a core component of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)-cognitive restructuring (CR). A keyword search for apps providing CR functionality on the Apple App and Android Google Play stores yielded 246 apps after removal of duplicates, which was further reduced to 15 apps following verification of a CR component and application of other inclusionary/exclusionary criteria. Apps were coded based on their inclusion of core elements of CR, and general app features including app content, interoperability/data sharing, professional involvement, ethics, and data safeguards. They were also rated on user experience as assessed by the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS). Whereas a majority of the CR apps include most core CR elements, they vary considerably with respect to more granular sub-elements of CR (e.g. rating the intensity of emotions), other general app features, and user experience (average MARS = 3.53, range from 2.30 to 4.58). Specific apps that fared best with respect to CR fidelity and user experience dimensions are highlighted, and implications of findings for clinicians, researchers and app developers are discussed. Key learning aims (1) To identify no-cost mobile health apps that practitioners can adopt to facilitate cognitive restructuring. (2) To review how well the core elements of cognitive restructuring are represented in these apps. (3) To characterize these apps with respect to their user experience and additional features. (4) To provide examples of high-quality apps that represent cognitive restructuring with fidelity and facilitate its clinical implementation.

Publication Title

Cognitive Behaviour Therapist










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