Tools and Exercises

Counseling Services stands in solidarity with expressing our grief and compassion to those who have been impacted by the race-based tragedies occurring across our country. These tragedies can be traumatizing especially to members of our Black and Brown communities. 

In the aftermath of experiencing or witnessing trauma, it is normal to experience a range of feelings and emotions, such as fear, anger, shock, sadness, helplessness, or guilt. 

Counseling Services is a safe place that is committed to affirming and caring for students who have been directly or vicariously impacted by these events. Please contact us if you or someone you know would like support. We are here for you!

Counseling Services Staff
Counseling often incorporates the use of tools or exercises in between therapy appointments. Presented here are a select few.

Apps for Mental Wellbeing

Suicide Prevention Apps

Suicide is a leading cause of death among Americans, tragically taking over 45,000 lives per year according to the CDC. While we’re not suggesting an app alone can save lives, it can be a good resource to go along with counseling and mental health lifelines, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255, and Trevor Lifeline, 866-488-7386.



notOK logonotOK is a free app developed by a struggling teenager (and her teen brother) for teenagers. The app features a large, red button that can be activated to let close friends, family, and their support network know help is needed. Users can add up to five trusted contacts as part of their support group so when they hit the digital panic button, a message along with their current GPS location is sent to their contacts. The message reads: “Hey, I’m not OK! Please call, text, or come find me.” (Free;  Android)


General Mental Health Apps

With the state of the world set to crazy mode right now, who isn’t having feelings? Whatever your emotion—stress, anger, angst, depression—a little extra help dealing is something we could all use, am I right? These apps are like a little pocket therapy (not to be replaced by actual therapy) that provide approachable, easy-to-use (and sometimes fun) ways to manage every mood, help change unhealthy thought patterns, and give you effective strategies to stay grounded when life feels out of control.

What’s Up

What's Up logoWhat’s up is an amazing free app that uses  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) methods to help you cope with Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and more. Use the positive and negative habit tracker to maintain your good habits, and break those that are counterproductive. We particularly love the “Get Grounded” page, which contains over 100 different questions to pinpoint what you’re feeling, and the “Thinking Patterns” page, which teaches you how to stop negative internal monologues. Try it out for yourself. (Free; iOS and Android)


Mood Kit

Mood Kit logoMoodKit uses the foundation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and provides users with over 200 different mood improvement activities. Developed by two clinical psychologists, MoodKit helps you learn how to change how you think, and develop self-awareness and healthy attitudes. The journal feature is a great way to practice self-care by reflecting on the day, noting any distressing thoughts, and documenting how you overcame them. ($4.99; iOS)



ThinkUp is an app dedicated to providing daily positive affirmations with the intent to boost motivation and self-confidence. You can browse from a list of pre-created affirmations or create your own. ThinkApp offers you the ability to increase the effectiveness of affirmations by recording yourself saying them in your own voice and playing the recordings back. You can also create playlists of recorded affirmations with hashtags to then be played over the music of your own choosing. (Free; iOS and Android)

Addiction Apps

Addiction is a serious disease that affects too many people—and the facts are staggering: According to the CDC, more than 750,000 Americans died from drug overdoses from 1999 to 2018 and an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually. Yet, with the proper counseling and dedicated rehab programs, addiction can be treatable.

While apps are not a replacement for in-person help, they can provide people suffering with recovery resources at the palm of their hands to help track sobriety, monitor triggering behaviors, and give instant access to support. If you are experiencing an addiction and need help, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day logoBased on the best-selling book of the same name, Twenty-Four Hours a Day offers 366 meditations from the book, making it easier for people in recovery from addiction to focus on sobriety wherever they are. (Free; iOS)




Quit That! – Habit Tracker

Quit That! - Habit Tracker logoQuit That! is a completely free app that helps users beat their habits or addictions. Whether you’re looking to stop drinking alcohol, quit smoking, or stop taking drugs, it’s the perfect recovery tool to track and monitor your progress. Track as many vices as you want and find out how many minutes, hours, days, weeks, or years it’s been since you quit. (Free; iOS)

Anxiety Apps

Those with chronic anxiety know the feeling: The angst is always there—lurking around like a stage-five clinger. It’s the kind of condition that, for the 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older who have an anxiety disorder, can be all-consuming when left to its own devices. But anxiety can also be manageable once you learn how to work through all that worry. Seeking help from a mental health professional is the best way to manage anxiety, but, the following apps are great tools to use along the way—like reminding you to focus on your breathing to get out of a vicious thought cycle.


MindShift logoMindShift is one of the best mental health apps designed specifically for teens and young adults with anxiety. Rather than trying to avoid anxious feelings, Mind Shift stresses the importance of changing how you think about anxiety. Think of this app as the cheerleader in your pocket, encouraging you to take charge of your life, ride out intense emotions, and face challenging situations. (Free; iOS and Android)


Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM)

Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM) logoSAM might be perfect for you if you’re interested in self-help, but meditation isn’t your thing. Users are prompted to build their own 24-hour anxiety toolkit that allows you to track anxious thoughts and behavior over time, and learn 25 different self-help techniques. You can also use SAM’s “Social Cloud” feature to confidentially connect with other users in an online community for additional support. (Free; Android)


CBT Thought Record Diary

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Thought Record Diary logoThe centerpiece of cognitive-behavioral therapy is changing your emotions by identifying negative and distorted thinking patterns. You can use CBT Thought Record Diary to document negative emotions, analyze flaws in your thinking, and reevaluate your thoughts. This is a great app for gradually changing your approach to anxiety-inducing situations and your thinking patterns for future situations. (Free; iOS and Android)


Bipolar Disorder Apps

Just like its name suggests, bipolar disorder is characterized by polar opposite mood swings that go from extreme highs to the lowest of lows. It’s a largely genetic condition that affects up to 5.7 million adults. While bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that requires medication and psychotherapy, along with those treatments, apps can be a useful tool to help those with the condition understand and track their moods, identify triggers, and get a handle on the severity of their symptoms. For more help and information about the condition, contact the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), which offers online and in-person support groups, or the International Bipolar Association Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


.Part personal journal and part mood tracker, IMoodJournal can be used to record everything from mood and symptoms, to sleep, medications, and energy cycles. By tracking these various factors, you’re able to analyze your daily feelings through summary charts that indicate where your stress levels rise and fall. ($2.99; iOS)


eMoods logoeMoods is a mood tracking app designed specifically for people with bipolar disorder. Throughout the day, users can track depressive and psychotic symptoms, elevated mood, and irritability and give an indication of the severity of their symptoms. Users can then see their mood changes on a color-coded monthly calendar and even export a monthly summary report to identify specific triggers and better understand their fluctuating mood.  (Free; iOS and Android)

Depression Apps

If you have depression, life can seem like a giant pit of quicksand that’s constantly pulling you under with no way out. Let’s just say, it’s a heavy state of being. And it’s also one of the most common mental health conditions, affecting about 350 million people. If left alone, depression can continue to linger and linger, taking a toll on your quality of life. But there is a bright side: It’s treatable. Seeking help from a mental health professional is the first step. And for those in therapy, there are also some good apps that can do everything from helping to boost your mood to connecting you with a trained professional who can offer virtual counseling. If you are struggling or in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Talkspace Online Therapy

Talkspace Online TherapyCan’t afford to visit a therapist but still wish you had one to talk to? Talkspace makes that possible. Starting at $65 per week, you can text message a trained professional as often as you need and receive responses daily. They also offer services for individuals and couples, so if your significant other wants to learn how to support you through your depression, they can download the app too.  (Various plans available ranging from $65 to $99/week; iOS and Android)



Happify logoNeed a happy fix? With its psychologist-approved mood-training program, the Happify app is your fast-track to a good mood. Try various engaging games, activity suggestions, gratitude prompts, and more to train your brain as if it were a muscle, to overcome negative thoughts. The best part? It's free!  (Free; iOS and Android)


MoodTools logoMoodTools aims to support people with clinical depression by aiding the path to recovery. Discover helpful videos that can improve your mood and behavior, log and analyze your thoughts using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) principles, develop a suicide safety plan, and more with this free app. (Free; iOS and Android)

Eating Disorder Apps

Thinking about food, weight, and body image is a constant battle for the millions of Americans with an eating disorder. In fact, it can consume so much of their waking hours that it often gets in the way of daily functioning. For referrals to treatment options, general concerns, or support, call the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders Helpline at 630-577-1330. And while you’re recovering, the below apps can help foster a better body image and encourage a healthier relationship with food.

Recovery Record

Recovery Record logoRecovery Record is a great app for anyone recovering from an eating disorder and wanting to develop a more positive body image. Keep a record of the meals you eat and how they make you feel using the app and complete questionnaires that’ll help you track your progress over time. One user calls Recovery Record a “remarkable recovery tool”; “It helps me stick to my meal plan, provides an outlet to vent about my food concerns and helps me stay intact with my body to work with it rather than against.”  (Free; iOS and Android)

Rise Up and Recover

Rise Up and Recover logoRise Up + Recover is a unique app as it not only allows you to track your meals and how you feel when you eat them, but you can also transcribe your progress into a PDF printout. Pull up the Rise + Recover app on your mobile when you feel the urge to binge or skip a meal, and need quick coping strategies. (Free; iOS and Android)


Lifesum logoUnlike the other apps featured in this list, Lifesum is a broader resource for all things healthy living. The app allows you to set personal goals, from eating healthier, to building more muscle and getting in more steps each day. You can also enter your own personal data and let Lifesum generate a “Life Score” to get a personalized roadmap to better health. With reminders to drink water and eat regularly throughout the day, Lifesum is a great option for anyone trying to live healthier, but for people with eating disorders, this app can be used to help you redefine how you think about healthy body image. (Free; iOS and Android)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Apps

Who hasn’t left the house only to turn right back again because you’re worried you left the iron or the stove or the curling iron on? We’re all guilty as charged. But for someone tormented by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), that same worry can persist all day—even after they’ve gone home to turn off their appliances. OCD, experienced by 2.2 million adults, is characterized by repetitive, unstoppable, intrusive, or obsessive thoughts and irrational urges (compulsions) to do repetitive acts to relieve the anxiety of the obsessions. The obsessions and compulsions can vary greatly. But, with a first-line treatment plan of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and/ or medication, OCD can be effectively managed. To ease the angst on the regular, the following apps identify triggers, help to navigate about of OCD when it strikes, and provide easy ways to turn around negative thoughts.


nOCD logonOCD was designed with the help of OCD specialists and patients to incorporate two treatments: mindfulness and Exposure Response Prevention Treatment. You can receive immediate, clinically-supported guidance when an OCD episode strikes, take weekly tests to assess the severity of your OCD, and have motivational support along the way. One user calls nOCD “a free therapist in your pocket!”  (Free; iOS)


Worry Watch

Worry Watch logoOne of the most frustrating parts of living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can be dealing with intense anxiety despite the fact you know your worries are irrational. Worry Watch aims to help users identify their trigger points for anxiety, note trends in their feelings, reflect on when the outcomes were harmless, and change their thinking patterns for the future. Think of it as your personal, password-protect, worry diary.  ($3.99; iOS)



GG OCD logoGG OCD aims to improve OCD symptoms by increasing the user’s awareness of negative thoughts and training the brain to push those aside to embrace a more positive outset. The app takes the users through various levels, each consisting of short games around a specific theme. From how to automatically replace negative self-talk with positive thoughts, to believe in change, building self-esteem, and more, this app takes its user on a journey towards a healthier thinking pattern. (Free; iOS and Android)


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a traumatic event and affects roughly 8 million adults a year. Symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Left untreated, PTSD can impact daily functioning, which is why getting help from a mental health provider is crucial. If you are suffering from PTSD and need help, call the National Center for PTSD at 1-800-273-8255. Though not a substitute for treatment, the following apps can be useful for those with PTSD to cope with anxiety and anger and find support.

PTSD Coach

PTSD CoachCreated by the VA’s National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), PTSD Coach offers everything from a self-assessment for PTSD, to opportunities to find support, positive self-talk, and anger management. What’s great about this app is that you can customize tools based on your own individual needs and preferences, and integrate your own contacts, photos, and music.  (Free; iOS and Android)



Breathe2Relax logoSometimes you just need to breathe and remind yourself you are okay. Breathe2Relax is made for just that. Created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, this app is a portable stress management tool that teaches users a skill called diaphragmatic breathing. Breathe2Relax works by decreasing the body's 'fight-or-flight’ stress response, making it a great option for people suffering from PTSD. (Free; iOS)


Schizophrenia Apps

Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder that’s marked by hallucinations, delusions, bizarre thoughts, and perceptual challenges. Symptoms can vary widely, and it can be very difficult for the person who has it to maintain normal functioning. There’s no cure for the disease, and symptoms can come and go—and often require lifelong treatment with medication. To help keep track of symptoms and get a handle on daily life, these apps are great resources.


Schizophrenia HealthStorylines

Schizophrenia HealthStorylines logoDeveloped in partnership with the Schizophrenia & Psychosis Action Alliance (S&PAA), the Schizophrenia HealthStorylines app makes it easier for those with schizophrenia to monitor their condition by keeping track of symptoms, medication, and moods. You can set medication and appointment reminders, record questions for your clinician, take note of symptoms and connect with a support system. (Free; iOS)


Mindfulness and Meditation Apps

From guided meditations, breathing exercises, and videos to stories and soothing music, mindfulness, and meditation apps are basically the answer to your angsty prayers. Experts believe regular meditation can actually change aspects of brain functioning. And for long-term changes, studies show that it takes about eight weeks of practice to make a real difference. Whether you have five minutes or an entire afternoon, these apps are guaranteed to create a sense of calm in your anxious brain—and all from the comfort of your couch. Namaste.


Headspace logoThe Headspace app makes meditation simple. Learn the skills of mindfulness and meditation by using this app for just a few minutes per day. You gain access to hundreds of meditations on everything from stress and anxiety to sleep and focus. The app also has a handy “get some headspace” reminder to encourage you to keep practicing each day.  ($12.99/Month or $9.99/Year for students; iOS and Android)



Calm logoNamed by Apple as the 2017 iPhone App of the Year, Calm is quickly becoming regarded as one of the best mental health apps available. Calm provides people experiencing stress and anxiety with guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, and relaxing music. This app is truly universal; whether you’ve never tried meditation before or regularly practice, you’ll find the perfect program for you. ($12.99/Month; iOS and Android)


Ten Percent Happier

Ten Percent Happier logoWant to sleep better, find relaxation, be more mindful, and, well, ten percent happier? This is the app for you. Ten Percent Happier has a library of 500+ guided meditations on topics ranging from anxiety and stress to parenting and sleep, as well as videos, bite-sized stories, and inspiration you can listen to on the go. New content is added weekly so you’ll never tire of having to do the same meditative practice again and again.  ($12.99/Month; iOS and Android)



(iOS and Android)

Professional Associations

American Counseling Association

American Psychological Association

Licensed Professional Counselors Association of North Carolina

National Association of Social Workers

North Carolina Counseling Association