How can we increase the impact of therapy for paranoid thoughts using digital technology?
SlowMo is a unique digital therapy for people with severe mental health problems that uses new and responsive technologies to visualise thoughts and thinking habits, and significantly increases the accessibility of therapy.
The project stems from the research question: 'How can we increase the impact of therapy for paranoid thoughts using digital technology?' It was developed using in-depth research in close collaboration with service users and clinicians within the context of the NHS.
Paranoid thoughts about other people wanting to harm us are common. One in five of us experience them often and they are one of the most frequent symptoms of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. In schizophrenia, thoughts of being poisoned or spied upon are understandable explanations for unusual experiences such as hearing threatening voices, being sent messages by the television, or feeling crawling sensations under the skin.
SlowMo is the first digital platform for paranoia that provides self-management tools for people to take control of their lives. It empowers users to visualise their thoughts and the fast thinking habits associated with paranoia, and slow down for a moment to manage upsetting thoughts. An interactive interface supports the delivery of face-to-face therapy sessions, which are complemented by a mobile application for use in daily life.
The SlowMo platform is particularly unique in harnassing technology to support users to visualise and illustrate the invisible – their thoughts and associated thinking habits. Thoughts are represented as bubbles, with different speeds, sizes and colours. This makes it easy for users to understand their thoughts as transient, and they reflect a range of distress and thinking habits. SlowMo allows people to slow down and pop their bubbles by providing tips to help them cope! By making the invisible visible, users are supported to modify their thoughts, so that they might cope better and feel less distressed. This simple metaphor provides a revolutionary shift in the accessibility of therapy, particularly for people with cognitive difficulties.
SlowMo has been awarded Wellcome Trust funding to investigate wearable technology integration. The SlowMo therapy was developed through a unique collaboration of leading clinician researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London and healthcare designers from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art. We are testing SlowMo in clinical studies in the NHS, and it is being developed for use with other mental health difficulties and for the self-management of stress and wellbeing.
Research Associate: Anna Wojdecka
Research Partner: Psychosis Research Partnership, King's College London