Mobile Phone apps for hearing Voices?

There is an interesting article on Mobile phone and therapy by Michelle Trudeau here

Here is a small excerpt on Hearing voices from it

One of the most intractable mental illness afflicting one percent of the population is schizophrenia. It’s for these patients that University of Pennsylvania researcher Dimitri Perivoliotis is developing innovative mobile technologies.

Palm-sized computers that chart a patients moods and activities, for example. And a digital watch that has personalized scrolling messages. The messages on the watch, for example, can instruct the patient on stress reduction exercises, like deep breathing or muscle relaxation, in order “to reduce the stress triggered by their voices,” Perivoliotis says.

“One of our patients came in with chronic, constant auditory hallucinations (i.e.; hearing voices) that really controlled his life,” Perivoliotis recalls. “The voices would threaten him that if he would go outside and do fun things, then terrible, catastrophic things would happen to him. He felt really enslaved by them. He felt no sense of control whatsoever.”

So the therapist taught the patient a few simple behavioral exercises to reduce the severity of the voices. It’s an exercise called the ‘look, point, and name technique.’ Perivoliotis explains. “When a patient starts to hear voices, he applies the technique by looking at an object in the room, pointing to it, and naming it aloud. He repeats this until he runs out of things to name (e.g., “phone, computer, book, pen…”).

Perivoliotis reports “the technique usually results in reduced voice severity (i.e., the voices seem quieter or pause altogether), probably because the patient’s attention is redirected away from them and because speaking competes with a brain mechanism involved in auditory hallucinations.”

So the mobile therapy watch that this patient wore was programmed to remind him a few times a day to practice this technique to control the voices.

“It really did the trick,” Perivoliotis says. The voices were dramatically reduced. “It kind of broke him out of the stream of voices, and his internal preoccupation with them.”

Exercises like these not only give the patient temporary relief from distressing symptoms, but importantly, Perivoliotis adds, “They help to correct patients’ inaccurate and dysfunctional beliefs about their symptoms — from, ‘I have no control over the voices’ to, ‘I do have some control over them.'”

As a therapist treating patients with schizophrenia, Perivoliotis finds the mobile technologies extremely useful.

“It gives me an additional source of rich information of what the patient’s life is like between sessions,” he says. “It’s almost like an electronic therapist, in a way, or a therapist in your pocket.”


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