“I feel like a cardiologist who has just seen a stethoscope for the first time. Finally a tool for my specialty.”

– Nan Shaw, Eating Disorder Best Practices Chair, Kaiser Permanente

Recovery in 2013

In this technology age, where over one million apps are available for sale, how refreshing it is to see a Smartphone app that specifically targets eating disorder recovery. This app is called Recovery Record. Recovery Record launched one year ago, and in this one-year an estimated 60,000 individuals with eating disorders and 2,000 professionals have signed up. I am using Recovery Record in both my work with patients at Walden as well as in my private practice. I am impressed with the app thus far – it’s easy to use and has an active interface. And many patients agree.  When asked their thoughts about Recovery Record, my patients are saying that the app is like a more engaging Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) diary card.  Interested in learning more? Together, let’s take a taste of what the Recovery Record app is really like.

How It Works

When I say this app is user friendly I mean it is seriously easy to use – I would not consider myself tech savvy; I bought my first smart phone one year ago and downloaded my first app, Recovery Record, one month ago. In just minutes after downloading the app, you are ready to connect with your patients. There are a few patient tutorials I reviewed as a demonstration; just reviewing them made me excited to connect with my patients. These tutorials made it very clear that the Recovery Record method is based primarily off of the DBT diary card skill, whereby patients are prompted to log their daily meals and snacks, as well as their urges to engage in eating disorder behaviors. This can be an extremely effective tool for both patient and clinician alike. When used often, patients begin to internalize the external signals for meal times and to practice their recovery skills. Clinicians can use the logged information to notice themes in the patient’s recovery – has the patient restricted breakfast over the last 3 days? Does she binge most nights after work? This information is great to bring into a counseling session, thereby making counseling more efficient and effective when you already know how your patient is doing before she steps in the door.

What the Patients are Saying – Accolades

In discussing Recovery Record with some patients at Walden, most found their experience to be quite positive. The features the patients enjoy the most include: daily prompts to eat meals/snacks, friendly reminders to log your meals/snacks if you have not done so, great reinforcers for when you do log healthy meals/snacks, and receiving ideas for coping skills. In addition, many enjoyed the interactive aspect of Recovery Record. One patient at Walden was aiming for 4 days behavior free. On her fourth night, I sent her an encouraging ‘you can do it’/’I believe in you!’ type of message. In speaking with this patient, she reported “That one day I got a message from you really turned the day around.”  I am happy to say that she surpassed that 4-day in a row behavior free milestone and made it to eleven consecutive behavior free days.

What Patients are Saying – Critiques

Some patients were not too keen on their experience using Recovery Record. Some report that logging every meal/snack and every emotion made them over think the situation—being intentionally mindful about how full and how anxious one feels after a challenge lunch might only lead to overwhelming feelings and a subsequent inability to follow the meal plan. Others report that they wish there was an option to skip the redundant array of opening questions every time you log a meal/snack.  How would you like to be bombarded with questions like: “are you feeling depressed, anxious, angry?” every time you want to record your meal compliance?  These responses are important and ought to be considered for revisions.

Healing and Dealing

There is room for improvement, surely, but thus far Recovery Record is one of a kind. A modern approach on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and DBT, Recovery Record aims to instill that accountability and independence in each and every patient who uses this app.  The connectivity between patient and provider leads only to improved patient care; through consistent use, you can determine what treatment approaches are most effective, thus providing more efficient treatment. And with an illness like eating disorders, which have the highest mortality rate of any psychological disorder, time is of the essence to ensuring a long lasting recovery.

About the author:

Kate Rosenblatt, MA LPC is a clinician specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.  She strongly believes that recovery is possible at any age and actively strives to build a world where fewer people suffer from eating disorders.   Kate works in both the partial hospitalization program and the intensive outpatient program at Walden Behavioral Care in South Windsor, CT. She received her MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University, where she specialized in Holistic Studies. A coffee enthusiast, Kate is on a constant, cross-country search for the best mocha latte, as documented in her online journal Del Mocha Vista. http://delmochavista.wordpress.com/