Thursday 6 August 2015 4:04 pm

Can a smartphone be your new therapist? App Moodnotes uses cognitive behavioural therapy to act as a personal trainer for mental health

Swipe or down on a digital smiley face to keep track of your moods and feelings – from happy to neutral to sad. Moodnotes, developed by London-based digital product studio ustwo, is a cross between a health journal, a therapist, and a good friend.

The colourful faces change colour depending on your mood, but don’t be fooled by the playful interface: Moodnotes builds on cognitive behavioural therapy, and it doesn’t want to be too easy to use.

Read more: Your smartphone knows when you're depressed

The point is for users to start reflecting, writing down their feelings and learning patterns about their reactions to different situations. The app gives advice on “thinking traps” and how to deal with them – and put bluntly, it’s supposed to be a bit uncomfortable.

Training apps have blossomed up to help our physical work-outs over the past couple of years. Moodnotes is a bit like a personal trainer, but for your mental health instead, founder and clinical psychologist Edrick Dorian told Wired:

Your feelings are actually signaling specific types of thoughts. And much like road signs, you wouldn’t just blast through stop signs and red lights; you’d stop to consider what they’re asking of you. You can think of feeling states similarly.

Read more: Are smartphones making us dumb?

The idea is that the app will be used as a supplement to traditional therapy – or to reach out to people who might otherwise not seek help or realise they have any issues, and in the long run, Moodnotes’ creators hope it will remove some of the stigma surrounding mental health issues.