A therapist in the pocket - an example of experience sampling to improve personal wellbeing

Activity: Talk or presentation typesConference contribution (without a publication)Academic


Simone J. W. Verhagen; J. Lenssen
Background: Mental illness often concurs with feelings of being lost. Treatment options are extensive. It can be challenging to ascertain where to start or what to continue. A drawback of many mental healthcare solutions is their main focus on symptoms and vulnerabilities, while aspects of resilience and strength are underrepresented. A helpful and empowering tool for promoting resilience and individual recovery is the Experience Sampling Method (ESM). Aim: To illustrate this, I will present insights on a case where individual monitoring and feedback guided a patient's treatment and promoted recovery from depression. Method: Together with an ESM-expert, an individual questionnaire was co-developed and online feedback was viewed weekly. The protocol consisted of ten daily questionnaires and a morning and evening questionnaire assessing respectively sleep and daily appraisals. Next to mood, cognition, context (activities, location, persons present), and appraisal of context, assessments also sampled medication use, meditation exercises and time spent outside. Results: The naturalistic single case dataset includes >2000 completed ESM-questionnaires, collected almost continuously for two years. Wellbeing improved in a nonlinear manner over time. Daily life choices influenced fluctuations in mood; e.g. morning meditation had a positive effect on mood later that day. Conclusion: Monitoring proved a valuable asset to recovery. It helped to appraise the personal situation objectively, at first by keeping track of what was going on and later by providing concrete clues for change. The data guided treatment choices and showed a story with ups and downs: a lived reality full of vulnerability and resilience.
Period1 Jul 2022
Event titleEuropean Conference on Positive Psychology: Creating a world we want to live in
Event typeConference
LocationReykjavic, IcelandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational