Twenty-Three Apps for the 21st Century Therapist



Mobile applications have a lot to offer therapists.  Whether you are looking for games to play with patients, productivity or billing tools, or something to help you research, there’s an app for that.  Many supervisees, students and consultees have asked me lately what apps I recommend, so I thought it was about time I gave you a list sampling those I find most helpful and fun.  Many are cheap or free, and available for the iPad, iPhone and Android:

1. GoToMeeting

Planning on doing online therapy?  Gotomeeting has desktop and app versions of videoconferencing software, which is HIPAA-compliant.  The app version allows you to attend meetings, but the meeting needs to be initiated from the desktop version.  I use this program for the majority of my online sessions with patients and supervisees.

2. IbisMail

If you are juggling multiple roles or a portfolio career, or simply want better therapeutic boundaries, this is the email program for you.  Installed on your iPad or iPhone, this program allows you to set up automatic filters, so you can sort through junk mail.  But it also allows you to set up folders for patient emails, so that you can have them all in one place.  Then it is up to you to decide when you review your patient communications, rather than have everything coming through one inbox.  Supports multiple email accounts.

3. Flipboard

If you are wanting to add value to your twitter followers or consultees, this is a great app.  It provides a slick intuitive interface on your mobile device that pulls in stories from feeds you set, from you Facebook account to the Harvard Business Review blog.  When you find something you want to share, the app allows seamless sharing on a variety of social media platforms.  In a few minutes you can browse and share selected readings and keep up to date on current interests.

4. Bamboo Paper

This app allows you to write notes on your iPad.  It is great for note-taking during evaluations, and allows you to send these notes to Evernote as a .pdf or email yourself a copy.  NOTE: Doing this is not HIPAA-compliant if you have distinguishing identifying information in the note, so I recommend you refrain from using the cloud-based features if you have any concerns about patient privacy.  If you are using it for workshops or other personal uses, however, no worries.  And if you keep the notes local to your password-protected device, it can be a great tool.

5. Evernote

I was hesitant to add Evernote due to the recent hack they experienced, but their quick and effective response to this have actually made me more confident that this cloud-based note-taking device is still useful.  It is NOT HIPAA-compliant, so I don’t use it for patient notes ever.  That said, it is great for dictating notes about workshops, blog ideas, snapping pictures of things for study aids, and a myriad of other useful tasks.  The notes synch up between every device you have them on, so you’re always up to date.

6. iAnnotate

One of my favorites.  iAnnotate allows you to mark up .pdf files on your mobile device.  If you need to sign off on a document someone emails or faxes you, no more scanning, printing, scanning again stuff.  And if you are a student or researcher this is a must-have, as it supports highlighting and annotating research articles.  Synchs with Mendeley and Dropbox so you can store your research library with notes online.

7. 1Password

How can you make your mobile device more secure and use your web-browser more safely?  This may be the answer for you.  1Password installs on your mobile or desktop, and allows you to save and generate extremely long and secure passwords.  The level of encryption can be adjusted for the most cautious of password protectors.  This program also synchs over the cloud so that you always have the up-to-date passwords on all of your devices.  Even more convenient, it can bookmark your sign-in pages.  All of this is secured by double-password protection on your iPhone.  Stop using the same lame password for everything and start generating unique hard-to-crack ones for true HIPAA-compliance.

8. Mendeley

One part social network, one part research library,  Mendeley allows you to store research articles and annotations online and on your device.  It allows you to network with other colleagues to see what they are researching, share articles, and store all of your articles in one place.  Often it can even pull up the bibliographic entry from the web just by reading the .pdf metatag.  Geeky research goodness!

9. PayPal

This is one option for billing patients and paying vendors that is good to have.  You can invoice by email, transfer money to your bank account, and keep track of online payments on the website.  The app works well in a pinch if you aren’t ready to swipe cradit cards in your office.  NOTE, each transaction has a small fee.

10. Prezi

I’d love to see more therapists using this one.  This presentation software allows you to create dynamic visual presentations on your computer or mobile device.  You could use it to convert boring DBT worksheets to a dynamic online presentation.  Prezi supports importation from powerpoint, and provides free online hosting of your prezis as well as tons of templates and tutorials.  If you do public speaking, upload some of your prezis on your LinkedIn profile to give potential clients a vivid sense of your work.  You can see a sample here, but bear in mind that it would make more sense if I was there giving the talk.  🙂

11. DCU

I haven’t been to a bank in over 2 years, and this app is the reason why.  Digital Credit Union’s Mobile Branch PC, allows me to deposit checks from patients via my iphone.  Just login, scan the checks, and in 10 minutes you’ve done your deposits for the week.  Meanwhile, the online interface allows you to keep track of your spending easily and export to Excel or accounting software if you need to.  Great for tax season!

12. Dropbox

Dropbox is a great and free way to store non-private information on the cloud.  The app allows you to email items easily, so I use it to email intake instructions to patients, press kits to people inquiring about keynotes, and a number of other items.  I also keep all my DBT worksheets on it so that they can be sent quickly and easily to patients should they be feeling in need of extra support between sessions but not acute enough to warrant hospitalization.

13. TED

This app allows you to stay inspired and experience innovation daily, by beaming TED talks to your mobile device from the offical TED site.  You can favorite, search, and share your favorite ones, or hit “Inspire me” for random ideas.  As I wrote this, I was listening to Amanda Palmer speak on “The art of asking.”  This app can allow you access to ideas outside of the filtered professional bubble with therapists often get ourselves stuck in.

14. Line2

Want a second phone line on your iPhone?  This app allows you to have one.  You can port your practice number to it, and stop carrying two cell phones.  At $9.95 a month you can have unlimited US/Canada calling, at $14.95 a month you get a toll-free number and virtual fax.

15. CardMunch

Tired of keeping all those business cards from a shoebox?  CardMunch allows you to snap photos of a colleague’s business card and convert it to a digital one which it stores in your contacts.  Synchs with LinkedIn.

16. Micromedex

Keeping up-to-date on medications is pretty daunting, but this app, with frequent updates, helps you keep track od a medication, its Black Box warnings, contraindications, drug interactions, adverse effects, alternate names, standard dosages and more.

And now for some games!

17. Plants Vs. Zombies

This game is great for helping patients who want to learn about strategy and pacing.  Choose a certain number of plant types to plant in order to stop the zombies from overrunning your backyard.

18. Zombies, Run!

Continuing my zombie kick, this game is better than any pedometer I’ve ever used.  The more you walk or run, the further you progress in this game of fleeing zombies.  Go on multiple missions, play with friends, and even train for a 5K.

19. Kingdom Rush

This game is a classic tower defense game, which helps patients learn to make choices, control impulse spending as part of a winning strategy, and work on pacing, problem-solving and a host of other cognitive abilities.

20. Minecraft Pocket Edition

This mobile app version of Minecraft is a great way to connect with a patient’s gaming, and the app allows you to play together on a wireless LAN, so you can fight for survival or create an amazing construction right from your office together.

21. Flower Chain

This is a completely nonviolent game that focuses on setting up a chain reaction of flower blooms in order to complete each level.  Great eye candy, and a fun game for clearing the mind after a difficult session.

22. Trainyard

This puzzle game requires you to plan out and design multiple railroad tracks.  The trick is to set them up and pace them so that they all meet their goals without running into each other.  Great prompt for talking with adolescents about how they can learn to negotiate peer relationships in the same way, or learn to compromise with adults in order to get along with them.

23. Lavalanche

This puzzle game is reminiscent of Jenga, in that you have to dismantle a tower without letting the Tiki Idol fall into lava.  Another great one for executive function capacity-building around sequencing, planning and problem-solving.

So there you go, give some of these a try and let me know what you think.  Have a favorite app that you want to share?  Please feel free to comment and include the link.

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  1. Jeana Hayes-Carrier says

    Hi Mike,
    This information is so helpful!
    Thank you! Jeana H-C

  2. Dale Shank says

    Mike, these all look great, but are any of them available for NON Iphone/Ipad users? Android phones and tablets???

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Hi Dale, yes, many of these are available for Android/ tablet users. Just google the name of the App and Android and you’ll be pleasantly surprised in many cases. Thanks for reading and bearing with my iOS-centricity! 🙂

  3. Great post Mike! Since picking up an iPad mini a couple months ago I have been using it everyday in session with my kid and teen clients. I have been looking for multiplayer games and enjoying Orbital HD and Fruit Ninja. Dropbox and Evernote are two of my favorite services. I would add that Evernote can be used for confidential info with offline notebooks. I am curious what you use for storing calendar and contact info. Thanks for some good new app ideas!

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Hi Uriah, for my patient calendar/EHR I use Therapy Notes through 1Password’s in-app browser.

      I only use the iPad and LinkedIn Contacts apps at the moment. If you use LinkedIn’s App be sure and do NOT give it permission to synch up its calendar with yours, or you may end up broadcasting patient appointments on your updates!

      If you have any Contacts programs that you think have more functionality than the iOS one I’m all ears.. 🙂

  4. austenhayes says

    Dear Mike, This is the best, most helpful, to the point information I’ve seen thus far. Thank you so
    much. I see in another discussion mention of …..a therapy management site including record keeping, billing and video conferencing…$50.00 monthly. Any thoughts on this?
    It looks attractive and would appear to streamline a practice…Austen Hayes

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Hi Austen, I will have to check counsol out. I think this is the next phase of our profession in tech, namely emerging platforms with all of the functionality you mentioned as opposed to piecemeal. That said, I am not sure I have found a platform that works equally well for all aspects of my practice.

  5. I would also include Square: probably the easiest way to take a credit card these days. And also Google Wallet, an easy way to keep track of income and expenses. The chart allows you to customize an infinite amount of categories and will also provide charts and reports for the month showing you income to debt ratios, what was the largest expenditure category or income category, etc. Thanks for the list! Melissa Satti

  6. Mike, I love your blog! As a tech-savvy therapist, I love reading posts by those who know more than I do. Some of these apps are new to me, and I look forward to using them, especially the password generator! Keep advocating for tech.

  7. Joseph Cipko, MA. LPC says

    Hello. I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your book very much and I’m catching myself up on your blog. You have really helped me bring my passion for games and game culture into my work as a therapist, as opposed to continuing to relegate it to a “guilty pasttime.”

    In terms of helpful apps, I have found the cognitus dbt and dbt diary and skills coach apps helpful with my DBT clients. When I am doing coaching sessions I will often refer to these apps to refresh myself and get some tips on creative places I can go with them. If clients have an idevice they can complete diary cards from their phone and have them sent automatically to your email address (no more I forgot my diary card excuses).

    I also use an app called ContactsPro. This is an app where you can save client contact information. The app has its own password specific to that app. This way I have a password for my phone, for the app, and the names are saved as first name and last initial.

    The apps that I have mentioned are available in the Apple App store. I cannot confirm whether they are available on any other platform.

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Thanks for the kind words about the book Joe, and for letting me know its impact. Come back soon!

  8. Hi Mike — as a non-tech gone tech type, this blog is extremely helpful to me! Thanks for helping me add to my resources!!

  9. Joseph Cipko, MA, LPC says

    Also wanted to add a really simple but powerful game: Passage. It is a perfect example of how pixels can be used to evoke emotions.

  10. Christine says

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for this excellent, informative post!

    One thing I’ve been trying to figure out this afternoon is whether sending clients a bill through PayPal would constitute and electronic bill that would trigger HIPPA concerns…any thoughts on this?

    Thanks again for your work!

    Best, Christine

  11. I love your articles, this one is no exception! Thanks so much!

  12. Hello,
    Thank you for this list. Do you know of an app that will keep a list of the clients, start date, fee due/paid, number, email, set up recurring appointments and allow names to be pulled from current contact list? I hope you can help me.
    Thank you,

  13. Thank you, Mike! This is fabulous! I also enjoyed your presentation on Prezi!

  14. What about apps to take HIPAA compliant notes? I can use Box to store them if I can figure out how what app to use to make them. And I don’t mean clinical notes per se. I use Simple Practice for that.

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Hi Jamie,

      I use Therapy Notes in conjunction with the 1Password app on my ipad and iphone. You may want to check that out. 🙂

  15. This is an epic post Mike! Thank you for sharing your wisdom

  16. HI Mike, I develop a free iphone calendar specially for therapist. It helps seeing the whole week at a glance, send SMS reminder in one click, and keep track of appointments and subscription card.

    I guess it will fit nicely in your great list !


  17. We launched Insight Notes in late February 2014 to provide a secure and encrypted notetaking app for therapists. It’s HIPAA-compliant, efficient, and easy to use. We designed it for therapists who do not need/want a full practice management suite, and who just want to be able to take notes securely and efficiently on their iPads. Our target user is someone with a fee for service practice or doesn’t need the reimbursement-focused charts of many of the other systems. Importantly, an internet connection isn’t required to use Insight Notes; all of the notes are encrypted and maintained on the iPad, and an optional backup is available as well. Users can elect to type, draw, handwrite, or even scan documents into Insight Notes. Please come check us out!

  18. Nice post. Do you have any suggestions for voice to text programs, apps etc that are HIPPAA compliant?

    ALso, what billing software would you recommend?

    Note that I am a solo practitioner and want a small-user based system that is not on a cloud.

  19. I realize this is an older post, perhaps you could update? I am helping a therapist friend with some office management, and in the comments you suggested using a program called TherapyNotes which sounds pretty great, except for the $60/mo pricetag. She/we don’t need something THAT robust at this point, do you know of anything a little pared down that is more of a one-time price or much lower monthly?


  1. […] about online technologies, video games and psychotherapy. Recently he published a list of “Twenty-Three Apps for the 21st Century Therapist” naming some of the usual suspects like Flipboard, Evernote, Dropbox, 1Password and other […]

  2. […] about online technologies, video games and psychotherapy. Recently he published a list of “Twenty-Three Apps for the 21st Century Therapist” naming some of the usual suspects like Flipboard, Evernote, Dropbox, 1Password and other […]

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