The self-help smartphone app COGITO (previous versions are MCT & More and Restart) provides self-help exercises for various psychological problems. This website offers additional information about the contents and purpose of the self-help app and is intended as a supplement to the basic tutorial, which you will find in the app itself (see app menu item "Tutorial").

You can download COGITO from the Android or iOS Stores. We suggest that you read the introduction to the app in the app store and the instructions in the app itself carefully before reading the more detailed instructions here. MCT & More and Restart are still available, but we advise switching to COGITO as this app has new features along with all the exercises in the previous versions.

What questions will this website answer for you:

Will this app actually help me?

The results of two randomized controlled trials with individuals with mental health problems are promising.

We tested a preliminary version of the self-help app in a randomized controlled trial with 90 people with self-reported depressive symptoms. The vast majority of the study participants rated the app positively. Participants who used the app regularly experienced a significant reduction in depressiveness over time. Compared to a wait list control group, the difference reached a statistical trend level (Lüdtke, Pult, Schröder, Moritz & Bücker, 2018, Psychiatry Research).

In a second study with students with mental health problems, we were able to demonstrate large significant effects on self-esteem and depression (Bruhns, Lüdtke, Moritz & Bücker, in press).  

Based on the promising results of these two studies, we developed the new version known as COGITO. We hope that we were successful in increasing the efficacy with the current version of the app, and we plan to conduct additional randomized controlled trials.

You can download an article summarizing the first study here:

Luedtke_et_al._2018_PsyRes_Smartphone_App.pdf


What are the app's goals, and what problems are addressed by the app?

COGITO is a free self-help app developed for people with depressive symptoms, but it can also be tested or used by people without mental health problems (e.g., treatment providers, relatives, students, people who want to further improve their well-being). The basic program package is called "Mood." Under the app menu item "Settings," you can select additional program packages. One of these additional program packages was developed especially for individuals with gambling problems. Another program package is intended for people who have psychotic experiences (ideally, this program package should be used along with our Metacognitive Training for Psychosis, available at no cost from www.uke.de/mct). Instructions for activating the program packages are provided below.

The self-help exercises used in the app are based on scientifically recognized techniques of cognitive behavior therapy and metacognitive training that reduce emotional problems such as sadness and loneliness and also improve problems with impulse control. It was our intention to implement these effective techniques using a self-help approach. Each day, you will receive a new exercise. Each exercise takes just a few minutes and can easily be integrated into your everyday life. Push messages will remind you to do the exercises regularly (optional feature). You will also be able to write/add your own exercises or modify existing exercises, allowing you to turn the app into your personal "guardian angel." Instructions for adding and modifying exercises are provided below. However, the app does not automatically adapt to the user's behavior (a learning algorithm is not included). Please first read the basic instructions in the app under the menu item "Tutorial."

Taking care of your personal psychological well-being is a bit like brushing your teeth; you have to do the exercises regularly so that they become routine and change your mood. Reading about a problem is helpful but not sufficient and usually does not lead to any lasting changes. You will benefit the most from the program if you participate actively and practice regularly! The exercises are repeated over time. This is good! Only through regular repetition is it possible to permanently overcome difficulties.


Important message

Please note that the self-help app cannot replace psychotherapy and is intended solely as a self-help approach. The self-help app is not an appropriate treatment for acute life crises or suicidal tendencies. In the event of an acute crisis, please seek professional help.

Additions to the app tutorial for COGITO, MCT & More, and Restart

Note: The three apps are similar in structure; differences are indicated below.

Notifications

MCT & More and Restart send you a push message with an optional exercise every day at about 1 pm. Perform this exercise as soon as possible. You can mark an exercise as "read" after 20 seconds. COGITO gives you more flexibility by allowing you to select two custom notification times.

Language

You can change the language under the menu item "Settings." Please note that if an error occurs when the app is started for the first time (e.g., because the app is immediately closed), the app automatically sets the language to English.

Program packages

In the COGITO and MCT & More apps (but not in Restart), you have the option to select additional program packages. "Mood" is the basic package and includes most of the exercises. This package is designed for people who want to improve their well-being, regardless of whether they have psychological problems.

The COGITO and MCT & More apps allow you to activate two other program packages in these apps: "Gambling" and "Metacognitive Training." Restart is specifically designed to help with problematic gambling behavior. If you are using Restart, we recommend switching to COGITO, where you can access the “Gambling” package and all the new features of this version.

The "My Exercises" category remains unaffected by any changes to the program packages. We suggest you select all program packages, including "Metacognitive Training" (exercises for psychosis), even if you do not have psychosis or schizophrenia. These exercises contain advice that many people (both affected and non-affected by psychosis) find useful. The Restart app, however, is only for people with problematic gambling behavior.

Achievements and umbrella symbol

Under the menu item "Achievements," you will receive a summary of your weekly results. Every week the app tallies the number of exercises you have read (and, hopefully, completed).

You will receive your weekly result on Sundays. You will be awarded a gold medal if you have read at least 7 exercises during the week.

Stay on the ball and use the app as a daily "toothbrushing" for the soul. As you do the exercises regularly over a long period of time, the image of an umbrella (a symbol of protection) will change from red to yellow to green.

Library

The menu item "Library" shows you the active categories. You may select the categories that appear there under "Settings." In the "Library" you will also find the category "My exercises." This category contains either modified exercises or exercises you have created yourself. If you want to shorten or personalize any of the exercises, click on the pencil icon. If you want to create a new exercise, click on "Add exercise" and follow the instructions.

Unlike the other two apps, COGITO has a daily inspirational quote.

Adding exercises

When you click on "Add exercise" at the bottom of the Library, an empty exercise box appears. Enter a title, a subtitle, and the desired text. You can also add a photo of your own (e.g., of your pet, a loved one, or an object that is important to you). To do this, simply click on "Photo" or upload a picture from your smartphone image gallery (click on "My image") and confirm your selection. If you do not receive a request for confirmation, simply click on "Add" again.

We recommend that you keep copies of (or notes on) the exercises you add.

You can edit new exercises with the following functions:

  • Pencil icon: Edit.
  • Trashcan symbol: Delete. Note that you can edit the preset exercises (using the pencil icon), but you cannot delete them.
  • Star symbol: Favorite. Mark the exercises that you like and want to do more often as favorites (click on the star so that it turns white). Favorites are shown to you more often than other exercises.
  • Slider: If the slider is to the right and colored orange, the exercise is activated; if it’s to the left and colored white, the exercise is deactivated. Deactivated exercises are not sent to you by push message. Once you have edited an existing exercise, it will be deactivated in the appropriate category but will still be displayed under "My exercises."