TCRBH:There are books, workbooks, and now applications coming out on smart phones to provide self-help in PTSD recovery. How do you view these tools as a way to sustain recovery?
Dr. Friedman: Any cognitive behavioral therapist will tell you that the more homework that you do the greater that the gains are likely to accrue. So homework is a very, very important part of cognitive behavioral therapy. [Evidence for the benefit of homework was suggested by the results of a 2010 meta-analysis (Kazantzis N et al, Clin Psychol-Sci Pr 2010;17(2):144–156).]
In terms of self-help, at the [Veterans Affairs] National Center for PTSD, we developed a mobile app called the PTSD Coach. It provides information on PTSD and about treatments that work. It also provides tools for monitoring your symptoms, so you can actually quantitate how upset or stressed you are. It provides easy-to-use skills to help you handle stress symptoms such as relaxation and breathing exercises, and it also provides information about where to get help. This has been downloaded over 100,000 times in 74 countries around the world. We have other mobile apps as well, including the PE Coach that is a companion to prolonged exposure treatment.
These are available to the public. Simply go online onto our website at www.ptsd.va.gov. Our website is the biggest and best website in the world on PTSD. We are working on Internet treatments so that you can actually do an online treatment; that is another important development that is going on.