Virtual Hope Box app

Virtual Hope Box app

  • An app to help people cope with strong, unpleasant emotions.
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Virtual Hope Box app By T2


  • Cognitive Behavioural Principles.
  • Games.
  • Relaxation exercises.
  • Activity planner.
  • Motivational quotes.
Country of origin USA
Clinical review 

5 star review

Read a clinical review below.

Security and privacy Does the app:
  • Collect medical information? No
  • Require a login? Yes
  • Have password protection? Yes
  • Have a privacy policy? No
  • Require internet access to use? No

Read more about safety and security when using apps.

Tips to improve your privacy and security [PNG, 200 KB] Health Navigator Charitable Trust, NZ
Staying safe online(external link) Netsafe, NZ

Cost Free
How to get the app

The Virtual Hope Box app was originally developed for military service men and women (and their families) by the US Department of Defense. It contains simple tools to help people cope with strong, unpleasant emotions. The app is divided into four main sections.

  • Distract Me has four types of  short games you can play to distract yourself from negative thoughts and feelings. You can choose your own photo to use in the photo puzzle game, play sudoku, do a word search or play mahjong solitaire.
  • Inspire Me has lots of inspirational quotes or you can add your own quotes.
  • Relax Me is an interactive feature with a variety of exercises to help you manage stress such as controlled breathing, meditation and muscle relaxation.
  • Coping Tools allows you to create coping cards and plan activities. The coping cards help you identify specific situations or triggers that you struggle with. You can identify the problem, the emotions you feel when that problem comes up, and skills you can use to cope. 

The app also allows you to add your own photos, videos and songs that make you feel happy and inspired, and allows you to add support contacts who you could call when you’re feeling down or having an emergency.

For a more detailed description of the app, see Google Play(external link) or iTunes(external link) and for a detailed review, see reviews below.


✔ Easy to access progressive muscle relaxation exercise (PGM).

✔ Complements commonly prescribed strategies for anxiety such as tools to support diaphragmatic breathing and PGM.

Gives choice to people wanting to practice different relaxation strategies.

✔ Great distress tolerance tools to use when coping with very strong, uncomfortable emotions.

Able to customise tools by adding own photos, videos, music or emergency contacts.

Activity planner helps people schedule pleasant activities by suggesting activities, making it easy to invite others and adding activities to personal diary.

Has had a successful clinical trial showing improvement in stress coping skills.

Many functions of the app only work if permissions are given to access other media and contacts list on your phone when installing app.

 Facility to access You Tube videos not working at time of review.

Emergency contacts provided are all US based.

Clinical review

5 star review

: Kris Garstang, Clinical Psychologist, Life Mind Psychology
Date of review: April 2022
Platform: Android

Version: 1.5.9
Comments: This is a simple but effective app that I have been recommending to clients for many years now. It remains an excellent method to access relaxation exercises which are useful for reducing anxiety and improving sleep. It additionally provides users with access to other simple but effective behavioural strategies for coping with strong emotions, including distress tolerance strategies and activity scheduling. These tools are commonly recommended to people by psychologists to improve mood or cope better with strong, difficult emotions and are known to be highly effective.  
Safety concerns: No, but emergency numbers provided are not useful for New Zealand audiences. Users in other countries are able to add their own emergency contact numbers and dial these straight from the app.
New Zealand relevance: Audio tracks feature US accents.

Clinical review

5 star review

: Kris Garstang, Clinical Psychologist, Life Mind Psychology
Date of review: July 2018
Platform: Android

Version: 1.4
Comments: This app contains relaxation, distraction and activity scheduling tools useful for managing common mental health issues. It is most useful for people suffering from stress or anxiety. The app has the potential to reduce muscle tension, improve sleep, improve mood and help you get through periods of high distress safely. I recommend this app to almost all of my clients as most will be looking for support to improve sleep or cope with periods of high stress.  
Safety concerns: None 
New Zealand relevance: This is an American app but all of the strategies contained are commonly used by NZ trained psychologists making it highly suitable for a NZ audience. No link to New Zealand crisis support services.

The following links has more information on the Virtual Hope Box app:
Virtual Hope Box(external link) PsyberGuide


  1. Denneson LM, Smolenski DJ, Bauer BW, et al. The mediating role of coping self-efficacy in Hope Box use and suicidal ideation severity.(external link) Arch Suicide Res. 2018 Apr 6:1-13.
  2. Bush NE, Smolenski DJ, Denneson LM, et al. A Virtual Hope Box – randomized controlled trial of a smartphone app for emotional regulation and coping With distress.(external link) Psychiatr Serv. 2017 Apr 1;68(4):330-336.

Disclaimer: The NZ Health App Library is a free consumer service to help you decide whether a health app would be suitable for you. Our review process is independent. We have no relationship with the app developers or companies and no responsibility for the service they provide. This means that if you have an issue with one of the apps we have reviewed, you will need to contact the app developer or company directly.

Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.