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The ACT app was developed with my team at OCADU with Dr. Sherri Turrell and Social Worker Mary Bell with Trillium Health (Ontario). Together we worked with teens receiving therapy under their care, using the innovation ACT (Acceptance and Commitment) therapy which combines mindfulness and cognitive behaviour approaches. Our team used approaches from cultural studies and user centered design to design a mobile app version of ACT that augmented face to face therapy and exploited the mobile device assets and aligned with the youth’s pop cultural interests and media use norms. This app is fully prototyped and we are seeking funds to build it out as an app and distribute it.

How It Works

Aligning with ACT approach, the app helps youth to deal with their ‘thoughts and feelings’ so that they can then work to achieve their personal, work and educational goals. The app guides youth to assess ‘what’s getting in their way’ and offers therapies to address ‘unwelcome thoughts and feelings.’ This includes a rap app, where youth parody unwanted thoughts, turning them into a rap song. As well, youth can choose to decompress with guided meditations. In keeping with a mindful approach, the app does not ask youth to measure their success but rather to note time spent caring for themselves, and rewards time spent with building blocks to an anime figure that grows with work.

UI Flow (User Interaction) Design Guide for the ACT App


Verstappen, M., Poon D., Bettridge, T. & Gardner, P. (2014). Off the couch and out of the hospital: Mobile applications for acceptance and commitment therapy. MobileHCI ’14: Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Human–Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices & Services. CD–ROM Proceedings. Mobile HCI ’14, Toronto, ON, Canada (pp. 431- 443.) ACM 978–1–4503–3004–6/14/09.