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PE Coach

The Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs have teamed on a new smartphone app for use with post-traumatic stress disorder treatment.

The app is called PE Coach, which stands for “prolonged exposure” and is available on Android and Apple platforms.

“PE Coach is a helpful tool that assists our service members and veterans who are between visits and in treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. “We have shared this app with our military health care providers as well, and hope that many individuals who are receiving PE therapy will find it useful.”

Psychologists at the Defense Department’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology, known as T2, and the VA National Center for PTSD developed the mobile app to help patients with their therapy. Both departments use prolonged exposure therapy as a treatment for PTSD.

Prolonged exposure therapy helps a patient process a trauma memory to reduce the distress and avoidance caused by the trauma. The patient revisits the memory with a therapist, and as he or she emotionally processes the memory, anxiety decreases. The therapy also helps the patient confront situations that trigger memories of the trauma.

Patients install PE Coach on their smartphones and can record therapy sessions for playback between the sessions. The app also provides an explanation of exposure therapy, assignments, explanations of PTSD and its symptoms and a convenient way to write notes about typically avoided locations, situations and events for later discussions with the therapist.