In-depth reviews of the DARE app.

Clinical review

: Kris Garstang, Clinical Psychologist, Life Mind Psychology
Date of review: June 2022
Version: 6.16.6 (free version)                               
Platform: Android 
Comments: DARE app is based on the book DARE, a method for coping with anxiety which borrows strategies from both acceptance and commitment therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, but does not have an evidence base supporting it as a whole treatment. Although the DARE steps seem very useful and align well with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy strategies, exercises to practise these steps are not taught by the app.

I thought some of the content in this app was very useful. For example, the tracks on panic attacks and the strategy of leaning into them rather than avoiding them was great. I also liked the four steps of DARE which, although not evidence based, align closely with the steps I’d normally ask a client to use if using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. However, I think that this app did not follow through well on this strong informational start and the guided audios provided in the free content did not always support the approach and sometimes contradicted itself. For example, it is contradictory to ask people with panic attacks to simultaneously try to bring on a panic attack (which is an effective strategy) in one track but then guide them through a relaxation strategy to calm the symptoms in another. I do not think a positive thinking or affirmation approach like telling yourself “I’m excited” to be having a panic attack to be very effective either compared to using the defusion strategies mentioned in the DARE steps (defuse, allow, run towards, engage).  I also would warn against repeated reassurance seeking which is also offered by the app but can maintain anxiety symptoms.
NZ relevance: : Relevant to a New Zealand audience but all the audios feature a male Irish accent.
Safety concerns
: Yes. The SOS function does not mention seeking help from emergency services or others. It only provides audio tracks to listen to. App does not acknowledge safety risks to those suffering severe anxiety.

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