DBT Peer Connections

Building Hope, Community and Skillful Means

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Smartphone Applications Review


With the advent of digital information and the world-wide web, the world of psychotherapy and society in general continues to look for new and useful ways to incorporate digital technologies into our everyday lives. Here the focus is specific to smart phone applications (Android, iOS7, etc.) that aim to incorporate aspects of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

To date, a variety of said applications can be downloaded for free and/or for a modest price on the market (either by web, iTunes, and/or Google Play) and new ones are certainly on the way. Each app presented and discussed below includes download links, developer’s summarized descriptions verbatim, and my personal review notes following (highlighted in red, bold type).

This list means to provide a general overview of available applications with user notes and is provided purely for your reference. User’s are informed to use the listed applications at their own discretion and are aware that the information provided herein does not mean to replace therapy provided by qualified mental health professionals.

Rachel Gill aka Pinki Tuscaderro
DBT Peer Connections Founder

A Pilot Study of the DBT Coach: An Interactive Mobile Phone Application for Individuals With Borderline Personality Disorder and Substance Use Disorder
Shireen L. Rizvi, Linda A. Dimeff, Julie Skutch, David Carroll Parsons, Marsha M. Linehan – Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has received strong empirical support and is practiced widely as a treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD) and BPD with comorbid substance use disorders (BPD-SUD). Therapeutic success in DBT requires that individuals generalize newly acquired skills to their natural environment. However, there have been only a limited number of options available to achieve this end. The primary goal of this research was to develop and test the feasibility of the DBT Coach, a software application for a smartphone, designed specifically to enhance generalization of a specific DBT skill (opposite action) among individuals with BPD-SUD

*Note: The link above refers readers to the scientific research literature for this application. Currently the app is not available for public consumption.

FREE (Windows, Mac OSX, iPhone, Web)

Optimism apps are self-tracking applications, designed to help you increase your understanding of all the things that affect your mental health. The apps act as a springboard to detect patterns in your health and develop strategies to proactively manage depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions.

*Note: This seems to be the most flexible FREE software for managing a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Diary Card and skills tracking digitally in that it provides synchronization across devices and the web, offers graphical interface for viewing skills/target behaviors over time (Fig. B), provides a customizable reminder function, and has clinician management option to allow for collaboration and/or sharing reports (Fig. C) that may be sent to self, therapist, etc. according to user preference. In my case, I have a weekly report sent at 7pm the night before my individual session to my therapist so she may have my diary card on hand before I arrive for therapy.

However, there is a catch to using this software as a diary card. The interface must be manually configured with DBT specific data elements provided and arranged according to your own preference. This took me some time to figure out through trial and error. I contacted the developer about creating a function for saving/distributing user templates, which may be included in future updates. This software is recommended for advanced computer/mobile application users. However, the good news is that all my hard work is summed up in the screenshot below. (Fig. A) which will surely cut your set up time to a minimum.


  1. Go to https://www.optimismonline.com/register.php and register with the website. This allows you to fill in your diary card, receive reminder notifications, and synchronize your data across devices. For example, I can fill in my card on my computer, synchronize data, then open the app on my iPhone and the data I entered through my computer will show up on my iPhone/iPad. (Android version is under development, according to the developer.
  2. Go to http://www.findingoptimism.com/ and download the software for your computer (Windows, Mac OSX) to your desktop or other related folder.
  3. Open newly installed software from your programs start menu (Windows) or applications folder (Mac)
  4. In the main screen, click the CUSTOM button in the CORE DATA, then STAY WELL STRATEGIES, TRIGGERS,  and SYMPTOMS, respectively renaming each section and customizing data according to screenshot below (FIGURE A) from my software configuration.
  5. After your software is configured, Point to title bar option FILE then click ONLINE SYNC.
  6. Click next to skip through the ONLINE SYNC introduction screen.
  7. Login to the Optimism server using your USERNAME and PASSWORD that you created when registering with the Optimism Software website. (See step 1).
  8. Select UPLOAD date from this software to the online database.
  9. Click CONTINUE. Congratulations your DBT diary card is now set up and ready for tracking.
  10. OPTIONAL: If you have an iPhone/iPad, go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/optimism/id352262677?mt=8 and download the app from iTunes and sign in using the information you provided for registration. (See step 1)




Optimism Software Charts Screen Shot


optimism report Screenshot for DBT diary card configuration


A Simple & Free DBT Skills Diary Card App

Free (iPhone only)

A Diary Log for each day with 28 skills. – A Description of Each Skill if you Forget – Examples of Each Skill – A record keeping system that tracks your highest number of days you have ever logged in a row as well as your current streak. – Statistical information based on 1 day, 7 days, 28 days, or ALL records. – A daily log. – A Notification reminder that you can set to remind you daily at a specific time – Ability to share this app through Facebook, Twitter, E-Mail, or Text Message. – Beautiful photos and artwork – Add your own music to the DBT Skills Diary Card. – Full Version Users: You can now send PDF files with your diary card stats + notes via email, or print to your AirPrint. Email your therapist/counselor with just a few taps!

*Note: This is a great, simple to use DBT diary card. You fill out as the app asks you a series of questions, those who buy the full version have more options to track and manage data. This is a user friendly, great app for those are new to mobile apps or beta testing gurus.

FREE (iPhone and Android)

is a portable stress management tool, which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing exercises have been documented to decrease the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ (stress) response, and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management. Breathe2Relax can be used as a stand-alone stress reduction tool, or can be used in tandem with clinical care directed by a healthcare worker

*Note: This is a must have FREE mobile app for anyone with a smartphone who wants to help manage their stress. As a DBT related app, this software will help you build mindfulness to breath by providing you guided breathing instruction with visual graphics and audio that you can customize to the second according to your own inhale/exhale cycle. This app is highly recommended for those with anxiety, Panic and/or PTSD related symptoms

Bowls – Authentic Tibetan Singing Bowls
FREE (iPhone Only)

Swirl your fingers slowly around the edges of the bowls to create beautiful meditative harmonic tones. Tap the bowls, gongs, bells, and tingsha cymbals to add depth and variety to your music. NEW Feature! Record and save your masterpieces and play them back while relaxing or meditating to bring peace to your mind, body and soul. Use this app for meditation, music, relaxation, and personal well-being.

*Note: In DBT group skills training, sessions typically begin with a mindfulness practice that ideally utilize a tibetan singing bowl that is tapped 3 times to signal the start of a mindfulness practice and 1 time to signal the end of a mindfulness practice. This application is great for those who are leading mindfulness practices and are looking for a FREE, digital alternative to purchasing an expensive Tibetan singing bowl. The audio is excellent and nearly indistinguishable from the authentic bowl sound.

Mindfulness Bell
FREE (iPhone and Android)rings periodically during the day, to give you the opportunity to hold on for a moment and consider what you are currently doing, and in what state of mind you are while you are doing it. According to the Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, this is an effective means of developing mindfulness.

*Note This is a great FREE application for building mindfulness. I like to set the timer to go off randomly and periodically through the day to remind me to take a mindful moment to be present and breathe deeply. The audio is high quality.

DBT Review
FREE (iPhone only)
Manage your emotions and improve your relationships with DBT Review, a personal-use DBT tool. This app was designed as a learning adjunct for people learning DBT or working with a DBT therapist. The four categories of skills are covered. The app is based on Marsha Linehan’s “Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder” (1993). This app is not recommended for anyone unfamiliar with DBT skills and is not a substitute for therapy.

Note: This is a FREE DBT skills review application for those who are in the process of skills training and are still building your descriptive knowledge of individual skills. Although not as comprehensive as DBT Self-help, this is a decent FREE alternative.


DBT Diary
$4.99 (iPhone and Android)
helps you keep a diary of your daily urges, emotions and skills used. One of the challenges of keeping a diary it is easy to forget the exact details of events when you are filling out your diary at night or before a therapy session. The DBT Diary app solves this problem by helping you keep a detailed, accurate diary throughout the day, at the exact time of each event, wherever you are, by using your mobile device.

Note: This is a DBT diary card application that offers comprehensive data tracking. However, the interface is not all that user friendly. If you are willing to take the time to customize your software, I recommend using Optimism, which is much more flexible and has many more options for tracking/sharing/managing target behaviors/DBT skills use.

DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach
$4.99 (iPhone and Android)
What DBT Diary Card has to offer – Skills. LOTS of them. It can be your quick reference to your skills so that you don’t have to carry around your book or binder. Every skill is described in readable language to help you understand them easily and it’s all just a quick tap away – Emotions. All the “basic” emotions are presented, again with descriptions and explanations a quick tap away – Behaviors. The most troublesome are pre-loaded – Coaching. If you know you need to use a skill but can’t think of which one or can’t remember how to choose, use the app. The coaching can be your virtual therapist. – Complete customizability. Are you working on something different or do you have a different understanding of a particular skill or emotion? Change it. It’s that easy. You are not wedded to the way it’s presented in the app. It’s all completely customizable – 911 skills. Put your emergency skills a tap away. – Email.

Note: I have not personally used this application, so have no additional info to offer other than the developer’s provided description above. If you have used this application, please share your review with readers in the comments section.

DBT Self-help
$8.99 (iPhone and Android)
is a tool that helps you manage overwhelming emotions, break destructive impulsive behaviors, navigate relationships and cultivate mindfulness. It contains skill descriptions complete with rationale and practice tips that will enable you to develop and practice the needed skills. The skills are based upon the principles and skills taught in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skill classes. The app can be used in conjunction with psychotherapy or as a standalone self-help intervention as the skills can be implemented into many situations and settings.

Note: This is a comprehensive DBT skills review application for those who are in the process of skills training and are still building your descriptive knowledge of individual skills.

DBT 911
FREE (Android only)
With this app, you will quickly get a random distress tolerance skill to do. In addition, for each module, Mindfulness, Emotional Control, Manage relationships, and Distress tolerance, are the skills represented and tutorials for these. Contains over 150 different suggestions on skill exercises. There is also the opportunity to create your own crisis list so you will always have it with you. An optional module for validation has been added as desired by participants. The application is designed in collaboration with the participants in DBT treatment. Dbt112 can never replace professional help, but can serve as a tool for DBT training.

*Note: This application provides reference to DBT skills. This app offers minimal information although it could be made more useful with some added effort from the developer. If you are looking for a DBT reference tool that is FREE and are not big on comprehensiveness, this app is for you.

DBT: Interpersonal Relationship Tools
$4.99 (iPhone only)
Build a D.E.A.R.M.A.N. using the DEARMAN builder on the spot! All the help you need to instantly make one on the spot. Save the DEARMAN’s you make along with priorities and load them up whenever you want! – An Intensity Calculator to help you figure out exactly how you should ask for what you want, or say no to others. – An Interpersonal Myth Checklist. Over time, keep track of how the myths you have in your head change! – A Validation Quiz. Do you know how to give validation to yourself and others? Use this quiz to get quick feedback on different scenarios so you learn how to give validation right away! – Troubleshooting to help you when you try to get what you want, but still can’t! – Beautiful Photography.

Note: This is a good app for those of you texters with fast fingers and it would be a useful app for people who are good at typing if it were a desktop application. The tool as afar as it references DBT skills, does a good job of stayiung in line with the skills learned in the Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills module. The downside is that the interface lacks automation and requires mostly text entries, which can be tedious on mobile devices. If you want to keep your interpersonal skills at arms reach at all times though it is worth the five dollars.

DBT Emotion Regulation Tools
$7.99 (iPhone only)

With Eight DBT Tools: Understand My Emotion, Emotional Myth Checklist: Short Term Happiness Tool, Long Term Happiness Tool, Observe & Describe Emotions, Opposite Action Calculator, Values & Priorities, Manage Extreme Emotions, Tips to use on the spot, and a number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Note: I have not personally used this application, so have no additional info to offer other than the developer’s provided description above. If you have used this application, please share your review with readers in the comment section.


Author: Rachel Gill

I am a survivor on mission to synthesize balance from division, to find dialectical healing, learn to love what I am feeling, live in the now, show my peers how.

3 thoughts on “Dialectical Behavior Therapy Smartphone Applications Review

  1. Reblogged this on A Day On The Plains and commented:

    Just a super interesting post! I’ve downloaded at least 3 of the apps to try out! Have a lovely evening everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting article – I learned a lot from the information ! Does someone know if my company could possibly access a blank IRS 1099-PATR copy to complete ?


  3. Pingback: There’s An App For That: Addiction Recovery SupportLatest Android Updates

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