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PTSD? There’s an App for That!

Posted on February 9, 2012 by admin

Julia E. Hoffman, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist and Mobile Apps Lead at the VA National Center for PTSD.

As a Clinical Psychologist I frequently see patients with Postraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  This is a common problem for those who have recently returned from a deployment or following military service and one that can impact families and communities.  The men and women that I treat have weeks, months, years, or even decades of suffering, and frequently experience the characteristic bad habits of PTSD – they set up their lives to get away from the discomfort that this invisible problem brings.

So many service members, veterans and their family members never come in to seek my care because they can’t make it work logistically or because they are afraid of appearing weak.  My colleagues and I never meet these individuals and therefore never get the chance to help ease their suffering.

Teams at the Department of Defense’s (DoD) National Center for Telehealth and Technology and the Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Center for PTSD have collaborated to create a mobile phone application (app) to help veterans and service members who have, or may have PTSD.  This app, PTSD Coach, provides users with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, opportunities to find support, and tools that can help with managing the stresses of daily life with PTSD.  Tools are based on years of research about PTSD treatment and range from relaxation skills and positive self-talk to anger management and other common self-help strategies.  Users can customize tools based on their preferences and can integrate their own contacts, photos, and music.

Most people who carry smart phones have them within reach and on all the time.  The goal of this app is to take education, skills training, and support to service members and veterans wherever they are, whenever they need it.  Plus, those individuals who are concerned about stigma can use the tool in complete anonymity.

We hope this app provides those struggling with PTSD a new way to build the skills they need to improve life for themselves and their families. For those in treatment already, PTSD Coach can help with coping between sessions.  For those not yet in treatment, PTSD Coach provides tools for managing stress and helps individuals to understand their difficulties better and learn more about PTSD treatment options.

PTSD Coach is a free mobile app available for devices running the iOS or Android operating systems. For more information on this app visit the VA PTSD Coach Information page.

Remember, PTSD is treatable. There is no need to suffer in silence.  Whether you are in treatment or not, PTSD Coach is a tool that you can use to make the everyday stresses of your post-deployment life more manageable.