New App, Moodnotes, Turns Your Phone Into a Psychologist

An new app for your phone, moodnotes, helps you understand your emotions, your mind and your deeper motivations. It's a psychologist in your pocket...

When you ponder the type of things smartphones are capable of today that would have been unthinkable even just a decade ago, it’s enough to blow your mind. Actually, there’s a recently released app for smartphones called Moodnotes that may not just amaze your mind, but actually help to heal it.

The Moodnotes app is just one example of how the relationships humans have with computers is becoming increasingly complex. No longer do we simply sit down at computers and use them to become more informed about a subject. In many cases, computer software plays a key role in extracting information from us and using it to help us improve. In some cases, it even lets us know if something is amiss with our bodies.

Doctors Can Make Diagnoses From a Distance

California is one of several states where people are pushing the capabilities of machines further than ever. There, machines are used as diagnostic tools, which are known as “telemedicine robots”. They’ve been used for many years and were initially depended upon when people were suspected of suffering strokes. In that situation, every second counts because delays can result in severe brain damage.

The robots, which stand about 5 feet tall and have speakers, microphones and screens, allow doctors and patients to talk to each other, no matter where they are in the world and how much distance is between them. This technology is being presented as a good alternative for people who may live in remote areas and do not have access to prompt medical care in the communities where they live.

Obviously, the doctors can’t touch their patients, but it’s still possible for them to go through several prompts that are normally used to diagnose common disorders. Furthermore, there is always a physician’s assistant or nurse in the room with the patient.

Using Technology to Fill Gaps Between in-Person Visits

It also makes sense that technology could be used to bridge the gap between face-to-face visits between psychologists and their patients. That’s precisely the concept behind the Moodnotes app.

It’s extremely easy to use, so even people who don’t consider themselves technologically savvy individuals can navigate through it with ease. That was probably one of the main goals during development too, since people should ideally use Moodnotes every day for the best and most accurate results.

Track Your Feelings

When you’re caught in a cycle of powerful emotions, it can be extremely hard to identify what’s causing those feelings. Moodnotes offers technology to help answer that question. Also, it’s very intuitively built, so you don’t have to worry about going through a huge learning curve to use it.

The app starts with a very simple prompt: “How Are You?” Once you answer that question, a couple of things about the app’s screen will change. First, the screen features the outline of a face. If you answer the posed question by saying you’re feeling down, the mouth on the face will curve into a frown.

Furthermore, the app’s background color will change. When you’re feeling upbeat, it’s more likely the app’s background hue will be something like a vibrant green or bright yellow, but if your mood is something that’s the opposite of happy, it’ll probably shift to a blue or gray shade.

Add Specifics if You Wish

Although you have the option of simply documenting your mood and moving on with your day, there’s also an “Add Detail” button that could be extremely useful if you feel like elaborating about your mood. For example, just like many social media platforms like Facebook and MySpace, it allows you to customize status updates with descriptions about how you’re feeling. You can simply say that you’re feeling tired, stressed or nervous.

Move Through the App in a Linear Way

If you’ve ever noticed how once a close friend asks you how you’re doing, you end up divulging more details than you ever intended, you’ll certainly appreciate how Moodnotes is set up. The questions and interface are both so nonintrusive that before long, it may feel like you’re actually unloading your feelings to a trusted friend rather than an app.

After getting the basic details about how you’re feeling, Moodnotes will try to dig deeper and get you to identify whether there are any patterns between the way you’re feeling now and how you’ve felt in the past. Since it keeps track of your mood over time, it would be able to alert you to the possibility that you tend to feel most stressed on the days you go to a relative’s house for dinner, or that you are most likely to feel inadequate after finishing a weekly session with your math tutor.

Use Tags to Find Entries More Easily Later

Each entry in your electronic mood journal can be tagged with words or phrases that may allow you to spot similarities in the way you think. That’s important, because the app gently encourages you to do a bit of self-exploration by honestly considering whether the way you’re responding to certain situations is warranted.

Going back to the possible example of how you might discover you feel most stressed the night before going to dinner at a relative’s house, there’s a chance you could see a trend whereby the next day, your mood is relieved or relaxed. Perhaps, as it turns out, you were feeling far too anxious over things that were merely concocted in your mind and not actually scenarios that played out in reality.

See Your Feelings Charted in Graph Form

Once you’ve gotten to the point of making about 10 entries in Moodnotes, you’ll be given the opportunity to see your feelings mapped out on a graph. It’s during that time when you can theoretically take an important step toward connecting your emotions to your resultant perceptions. Rather than just feeding you information, Moodnotes will ask if you’re able to spot any reoccurring characteristics about the different moods you have and why.

Change Your Perceptions With Help from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The Moodnotes app was brought to life by a London design studio and two clinical psychologists named Edrick Dorian and Drew Erhardt. The psychologists were interested in using concepts from cognitive behavioral therapy to make people become more in tune with how the way they feel and the way they perceive things are connected.

The idea is, when people realize they are repeatedly thinking negative thoughts and allowing those thoughts to tarnish their perceptions of reality, they can theoretically train themselves to maintain positive perceptions instead.

It’s worth noting Moodnotes isn’t the first foray the team of psychologists have had into the world of technology. They released a similar app called MoodKit in 2011, but Moodnotes is a more robust version of that concept that’s geared towards a larger market.

Allow Yourself to Engage in Personal Growth

If used regularly, it’s likely Moodnotes could give you much greater insight into your feelings, and eventually make you feel more empowered to use reality to overrule particularly irrational emotions. Maybe, after using Moodnotes to track how you feel over the course of a month, you’ll notice you are more likely to feel ill-equipped every other Tuesday. After looking further, you may find those feelings coincide with days when you have brief meetings with a superior to fill him in on how things are going.

If you also notice a trend where the following days feature mood updates like “strong,” “eager” and “intelligent,” you may start to convince yourself that the negative feelings you experience prior to meeting with the boss aren’t useful or necessary. Perhaps you’ll be able to look at past data and see you only felt badly after those meetings once, over the past six months.

Then, you’d have hard evidence to suggest it’s time to change your perception to one that’s more favorable. Although people often say they’d like to grow into stronger, more stable people, that’s often easier said than done. Fortunately, Moodnotes makes it simple to improve gradually by doing nothing more than documenting your feelings over time and being willing to make positive changes.

Get Information That’s Useful for the Future

Luckily, Moodnotes doesn’t just let you keep track of how you’re feeling and encourage you to make beneficial changes. Like a real psychologist who might be staffed at a health care facility to help patients overcome traumatic pasts, the app offers insight to stop you from engaging in harmful tendencies and evolve by adopting healthier habits. The app specifically brings up thought traps and helps you figure out if you’re caught in a destructive thought cycle, plus how to move beyond it.

See How Useful Mental Health Help Can Be

The Moodnotes app is available to download on the App Store. However, it’s not meant to replace in-person psychological assistance. Rather, think of it as a tool that might initially make you realize you’re at a point in your life where regular appointments with a psychologist would be advantageous.

You could potentially use Moodnotes as a supplement to appointments with a psychologist, and depend on the notes you take to give him or her a more complete picture of how you’re feeling between appointments. The daily documentation style of Moodnotes not only gets you into a healthy habit that puts you more in touch with your thoughts and feelings, but it also gives a mental health professional a better understanding of your mind and how it fluctuates as things in your environment change.

Moodnotes is available to download for $3.99. It’s also compatible with the Apple watch.