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Pocket-sized psychologist only an app away

24 August, 2015

A new smartphone app is putting a psychologist in the pocket of anyone needing on the spot advice.

A team of experts from Deakin University's School of Psychology have developed the free app which contains a library of short videos that provide tips for managing social anxiety, depression, or body dissatisfaction.

"There's never a good psychologist around when you need one, right? Like just before you're about to go into an anxiety provoking situation, or when you're being challenged by depressed mood," said Director of Deakin's eMental Health Unit, Associate Professor David Austin.

"The Deakin Ultra-Brief Interventions app, or DUBI, is an entirely new way of delivering psychological services to people when and where they need it.

"Each DUBI video runs for no more than three minutes and has gone through a peer-review process before being made available, so users can be assured that they are only getting the latest, proven techniques."

The pilot version of the app is currently available to download, with users having unlimited access for three to four weeks, after which they will be asked to provide feedback about their experiences. The DUBIs cover a range of social situations from being at a wedding, the pub or at the doctors to giving a speech, doing the shopping or handling an interview.

"We encourage anyone who feels anxious in social situations to give DUBI a try and to let us know how effective it has been in reducing their symptoms of anxiety and increasing self-confidence," Associate Professor Austin said.

"Their feedback will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of the app and improvements that we can make."

Online therapeutic interventions have boomed as technology has improved, however DUBI is one of the few interventions offered for smartphones, Associate Professor Austin explained.

"Often socially anxious people do not engage in traditional forms of therapy as their very symptoms preclude their engagement in face-to-face social interactions," he said.

"Many online interventions are being developed to target these people, though most subscribe to traditional six to 10 week cognitive behavioural programs rather than the ultra-brief interventions we have developed with DUBI.

"Furthermore, we all tend to carry a phone around in our pocket, so what better place to offer mental health interventions than a smartphone."

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