Product, Design, Development
Sai Perchard, Aaron Neaves
In collaboration with Aaron Neaves, I have been designing, researching, and building a digital tool to help clinical psychologists practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a type psychotherapy (commonly used to treat depression and anxiety, but widely effective in other areas) directed towards solving current problems and modifying dysfunctional thinking and behavior. A variety of techniques are used to produce cognitive change, modifying the patient's thinking and belief system. The problem we are trying to solve is: how can an existing, clinically validated methodology (CBT) be translated to a digital medium to help improve outcomes?
Research & Ideation
Research and ideation is ongoing, and we are always learning. Sources of knowledge include books; research papers; interviews with clinicians and patients; and prototyping & user testing.
We are not attempting to create a new method of treatment, but instead understand how technology can be leveraged to more effectively practice existing, clinically proven approaches.
We have run several pilots using Google Drive/Docs/Forms and Zapier. This has helped us learn quickly, without having to commence anbuild.
The home tab is a timeline setting out events – primarily actions the user has undertaken in the app. This helps a patient visualize their progress and see everything in one place. It allows the clinician to easily review and discuss what's happened since the last session.
The Insights tab is a place to record learnings. These may be insights reached in collaboration with a clinician in-session, or a personal introspection discovered between sessions. Insights can be pinned, to keep particular observations top of mind; and reminders can be sent periodically as push notifications. Entries can be enriched over time with supporting media. Often an insight is not static, and will develop over time.
A cornerstone of CBT, the Thoughts tab allows the user to record their automatic thoughts, identify cognitive distortions, and re-evaluate them through a critical lens informed by an understanding of their biases. A floating action button allows a patient quick access to coach if they need help.
Experiments are comprised one or more steps, and can be used to overcome a fear or test a belief. Graded exposure therapy can be practiced by setting up a series of increasingly anxiety-inducing steps (an exposure hierarchy). For example, to overcome a fear of public speaking, early steps may include preparing a presentation and practicing it privately. The final step may be talking at a conference. Distress can be recorded each time a step is completed. If the distress is below a certain level, we suggest that the user move on to the next step; otherwise, we suggest repeating the step.
Aaron and I are continuing to work on this project in our limited discretionary time. Aaron is currently a is co-founder and Director of Neaves & Menne Clinical Psychology, and I am working on client projects with notorii and in a personal capacity.
We're particularly excited to explore how principles from Schema Therapy might be integrated into the product.