In-depth reviews of the Happify app.

Clinical review

Two out of five stars

: Kris Garstang, Clinical Psychologist, Life Mind Psychology
Date of review: April 2022
Version: 1.76.1-111002f62734  (Free version)            
Platform: Android 
Comments: This app is a bit of a fun, light look at wellbeing. However, it can feel too superficial and the tasks assigned each day are not always actually evidenced based even though they are loosely related to research findings. I think that this app would be more effective if users were able to be more active in choosing their wellbeing activities each day rather than prescribed activities which must be completed before a user can move on to other activities. Some people will find this annoying. Some of the content is good but some is not and it is difficult to find one’s way to the tools and strategies that are useful and evidenced based such as mindfulness and autogenic relaxation exercises. Other exercises feel culturally inappropriate for a New Zealand audience, especially ones asking them to express feelings to others which may feel too expressive for New Zealanders. I would not recommend this app to friends or clients because of these factors. 
NZ relevance: This app is designed for an American audience and New Zealanders may not relate to some of the assigned tasks.
Safety concerns
: None.

Clinical review

Free version: 
Two out of five stars

Paid version:

Jeremy Steinberg, GP, FRNZCGP
Date of review: April 2018
Comments: This app mainly uses positive psychology to improve psychological well-being, which is an approach that has good research supporting it. There are also elements of other therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness. The text throughout the app is extensively referenced to supporting research which is fantastic to see and something very uncommon for medical apps. The app itself has had one poorly done trial published which showed improvements in well-being (but there was no control group)

The core of the app is following different ‘tracks’ where you complete activities to reach a goal such as conquering negative thoughts, controlling anger, improving sleep etc. It uses ‘gamification’ with the ability to ‘level up’ and increase different ‘stats’ namely Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give and Empathise. The app is highly interactive, and there are many mini-games but I found some of these gimmicky.
You can take a positive psychology personality test to discover your strengths and then try and use these strengths in your daily life to increase wellbeing. This is a standard positive psychology approach and is well validated. The free version only gives you your top three strengths which I found in poor taste given that it is a completely free online test.

I would not recommend the free version as it is extremely limited. The subscription price for the paid version is similar to its competitors such as Headspace and Pacifica. I would only recommend this app if this type of approach interests you and you would like to try ‘gamification’ of your goals. 
Safety concerns: None.  

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