This App Wants To Cure Social Anxiety

by Lara Rutherford-Morrison

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 18 percent of the U.S. population suffers from anxiety disorders (that’s a whopping 40 million American adults). Although anxiety disorders respond very well to treatment, only about a third of those affected receive help, something that Joyable, a smartphone app for treating social anxiety, is trying to change. The app, which went public in March, seeks to make treatment more affordable and accessible by offering cognitive behavioral therapy to online users.

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is widely regarded as an effective way of treating certain anxiety disorders, and studies have shown that receiving online CBT can be as effective as working with a therapist in person. Joyable clients learn CBT by working with a coach, with whom they communicate via text, phone, and email, and through self-guided exercises, readings, and videos. The app’s founders stress that their program was developed with the help of clinical experts specializing in social anxiety, including Dr. Rick Heimberg, author of Managing Social Anxiety and Director of the Adult Anxiety Clinic at Temple University.

Joyable isn’t free, but compared to the cost of in-person therapy, the apps’ $239 price tag for a three-month program is relatively affordable. As a profile of Joyable and other online CBT programs in The Atlantic points out, online CBT could also offer greater access to treatment for people living in rural areas where therapists aren’t exactly thick on the ground.

Joyable reports that 90 percent of its clients experience some degree of relief from their anxiety, and that, on average, clients’ social anxiety declines by 30 percent. Steve Marks, co-founder of Joyable, explained to Bustle,

Clients tell us that a 30 percent decline is life-changing. It empowers them to do the things that they care about most -- things that were hard for them before Joyable, such as interviewing for jobs, going on dates, attending social events, or interacting successfully with their families.

To learn more about the app and how it works, check out the Joyable website.

Images: Pixabay; courtesy of Joyable.