Oh, my. Has it really been over six months since I’ve done an app review? Time to get back on track! Update on me: I’ve switched from acute inpatient to a rehab facility (rehab, SNF, LTC). There are things I miss about acute, but I am excited about the new position, especially being able to use apps in therapy again! In other words, hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me. 🙂 The number one app I’ve used so far is Conversation TherAppy. The app has been out for a number of months now, but I’ve used it so much in the past two weeks that it’s impossible NOT to share about it. (And I even found a few times to use it in acute, so I’ll share about that, too.)
What It Is: An app for stimulating conversation by Tactus Therapy.
How It Works: The app presents a number of picture stimuli in various categories (e.g. family, food, sexuality, violence). The pictures are usually striking in some way (in order to elicit conversation). For example, there may be a moral dilemma, a relatable/memorable scene, or a safety concern. Each picture is surrounded by 10 subtle prompt buttons, which present the user with a question/instruction when touched. The prompts are set up the same way for each picture, so there is always a button for describing, defining, remembering, deciding, feeling, inferring, predicting, narrating, evaluating, and brainstorming. That way if you are only working on certain goals, you can easily choose which prompts to discuss (and on which ones to take data). A report is generated at the end with the data.
Therapy Applications: I like to go into the session knowing which prompts I want to focus on most. E.g. maybe we will just work on defining and remembering, so I can turn off/ignore the other prompts. Or maybe I need to customize my own prompts. Or, safety awareness is a frequent theme in my setting, so I have often focused on the safety category. Then again, plans be darned, sometimes we forsake the prompts/categories altogether and just flip through talking about what we see. The prompts are awesome (especially for structured, consistent data collection), but occasionally a patient does best with just the images. For example, I had a patient in acute care who would greet me when I walked in the door, but otherwise she used no verbal language, even with the typical automatic tasks like singing and counting. When presented with some of the more provoking images, however, it was a strong enough stimulus to get several sentences out of her, and we were able to build from there.
Other uses: Like most (all?) of Tactus’s apps, you can customize the content to be age appropriate (child, teen, adult). While I haven’t used the app with children/teens personally, it seems like it would be very easy to use with them, particularly later elementary and up. This is also a group-friendly app, since it promotes spontaneous conversation and has multi-person data collection capabilities. I have also used this app to address other goals on a more incidental basis. Think: pragmatic skills such as emotionally appropriate reactions and turn-taking, or receptive skills such as following directions.
Pros: 1. Quality and quantity of the photographs and prompts. You get your money’s worth here.
2. Simple flow, especially since the prompts and data collection buttons are subtle compared to the large pictures.
3. Settings options. Since the app is friendly for all ages, it’s especially important to be able to change the number of trials, content, and ability to click to outside links. Oh, and there are three other language options as well (French, Portuguese, Zulu).
4. Easy data collection. It starts with the “user hub,” where you can preselect which prompts to focus on for each individual. It continues with the subtle prompts at the top of the page, the ability to simultaneously collect data on multiple users, and the color-coded report at the end. The data does store on the device and can be emailed, so be careful of protecting patient privacy, but it is easy to control this.
5. The adult mode is truly adult appropriate. In reality, the things that get most adults talking are the controversial topics. I appreciate that Tactus was able to tactfully include these important, conversation-provoking subjects.
6. You probably know I love Tactus Therapy apps in general. (See my other Tactus reviews here and here and here.) I think this one impresses me the most so far though, because it is so natural and functional. The others are (intentionally) more drill-based, and this one (while still high-content) is so…well, conversational. It has yet to “flop” in therapy for me, regardless of the patients’ skill level.
Cons: 1. Less of a con and more of a caution: use common sense. Go into child mode when you’re with your elementary kiddos. If a patient is offended by/sensitive to particular topics to the point where it would be problematic to bring them up, then customize so they don’t show. You have the options to make it as customized as needed – use them. 🙂
The Take-Away: It is worth the price tag if you are looking for great stimuli for conversation-based therapy. I can vouch for it’s worth with adults with cognitive-communicative deficits, and I can also see it’s potential use with younger ages as well. It’s a high quality product that I will continue to use quite frequently.
My Questions for You: How do you stimulate conversation in therapy? Do you use controversial topics to elicit responses?
Looking for more expert reviews of this app? Check it out on YappGuru.com!