A necessity for all of us
All of us have mental health
Only 7% of adults aged 16-34 report positive mental health.
Between 61% and 85% of us will encounter a psychological problem at some point in our lives.
Yet, we tend to pay attention to our minds only once symptoms are present and troubling. This is like telling someone not to bother going to the gym until they’re already obese.
By turning the quest for mental resilience into an epic adventure, Betwixt helps you make big positive changes with less effort.
“Children and adults with high resilience resources are half as likely to have a diagnosable mental health condition.”
Mental Health Policy Commission: Investing in a resilient generation, University of Birmingham
The research behind Betwixt
Betwixt draws from compelling research and therapeutic practice grounded in:
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Meditation, and other tools
Together, these techniques work to help you develop emotional literacy and self-awareness, to move past mental blocks and make a big difference to your life. Betwixt brings them into a guided, playable adventure on your phone.
We daydream about 2,000 times per day, spinning stories about ourselves and the world. Social psychologist Timothy Wilson has shown that “story editing” - reframing the narratives we live by - is a powerful way to improve coping and overcome self-defeating thoughts and behaviours.
Betwixt helps people tell a better story about themselves by actively involving them in the construction of an alternative, more positive life narrative.
Journaling and expressive writing
Research over the past 20 years suggests that writing about difficult experiences for as little as 15 minutes over 3-5 days can have significant physical and psychological benefits, including improved mood, better subjective well-being, reduced depressive symptoms, less absenteeism from work, and fewer hospital visits.
Betwixt features a number of creative writing prompts to utilise the benefits of this evidence-based technique and to help you spot self-defeating patterns in your own behaviour.
Roleplay and social cognitive theory
According to Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory, we are more likely to adopt a behaviour if it’s performed by similar others.
By identifying with your character in Betwixt, you get to learn and integrate the mental strategies that this character uses to survive the journey.
Research shows that the key to self-reflection is the ability to step back and observe your experiences from a distance. When you think about an upsetting event from a distanced perspective, you feel less victimised and distressed by it, while gaining better clarity and achieving closure.
Betwixt contains a number of techniques that create a safe remove from problems, allowing you to reflect on painful emotions in a way that helps you move past them.
A growing body of research has found that meditation can improve symptoms of anxiety, ruminative thinking, stress, chronic pain and others.
In Betwixt, you’ll find a number of guided meditations that will help you rest and relax, deepen your self-compassion and self-awareness, and consolidate the learnings from each game session.
With a large evidence base behind it, CBT has been accepted as the gold standard psychological intervention for a number of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Despite its benefits, a lot of people find CBT work too much like “homework”.
Betwixt turns key CBT elements - trigger identification, cognitive restructuring, relaxation - into a seamless part of the magical world, making potentially boring techniques engaging.
References and resources for further reading
Burstow, P., Newbigging, K., Tew, J., and Costello, B., 2018. Investing in a Resilient Generation: Keys to a Mentally Prosperous Nation. Birmingham: University of Birmingham. https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/impact/policy-commissions/mental-health/index.aspx
Thorley C (2017) Not By Degrees: Improving student mental health in the UK's Universities, Institute for Public Policy Research. http://www.ippr.org/research/publications/not-by-degrees
Schaefer JD, Caspi A, Belsky DW, et al. Enduring mental health: Prevalence and prediction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5304549/
Collin, Philippa et al. (2011). ReachOut.com: The role of an online service for promoting help-seeking in young people. Advances in Mental Health. 10. 39-51. 10.5172/jamh.2011.10.1.39.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271152011_ReachOutcom_The_role_of_an_online_service_for_promoting_help-seeking_in_young_people
Bakker, David et al. (2016). Mental Health Smartphone Apps: Review and Evidence-Based Recommendations for Future Developments. JMIR Mental Health. 3. e7. 10.2196/mental.4984.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/296486849_Mental_Health_Smartphone_Apps_Review_and_Evidence-Based_Recommendations_for_Future_Developments
Fleming TM et al. Maximizing the Impact of e-Therapy and Serious Gaming: Time for a Paradigm Shift. Front Psychiatry. 2016;7:65. Published 2016 Apr 18. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00065 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4834305/
Gilbody Simon et al. Computerised cognitive behaviour therapy (cCBT) as treatment for depression in primary care (REEACT trial): large scale pragmatic randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2015; 351 :h5627 https://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h5627
Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
McGonigal, Jane. SuperBetter: How a gameful life can make you stronger, happier, braver and more resilient. HarperCollins Publishers.
Johnson D, Deterding S, Kuhn KA, Staneva A, Stoyanov S, Hides L. Gamification for health and wellbeing: A systematic review of the literature. Internet Interv. 2016;6:89–106. Published 2016 Nov 2. doi:10.1016/j.invent.2016.10.002 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6096297/
Ferrara, John. (2013). Games for Persuasion. Games and Culture. 8. 289-304. 10.1177/1555412013496891. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.880.8921&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Johnson D et al. Gamification for health and wellbeing: A systematic review of the literature. Internet Interv. 2016;6:89–106. Published 2016 Nov 2. doi:10.1016/j.invent.2016.10.002 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6096297/
Weir, Kirsten. Revising your story. American Psychological Association. March 2012, Vol 43, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/03/revising
Zak, Paul. Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_stories_change_brain
Kross, Ethan and Ozlem Ayduk. (2016). Self-Distancing : Theory, Research, and Current Directions. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065260116300338
Baikie, KA & Wilhelm, Kay. (2005). Emotional and physical benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. 11. 338-346. 10.1192/apt.11.5.338.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231337110_Emotional_and_physical_benefits_of_expressive_writing
Gu, Jenny et al. (2015). How do Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Improve Mental Health and Wellbeing? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Mediation Studies. Clinical Psychology Review. 37C. 10.1016/j.cpr.2015.01.006. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25689576
Transactional Analysis (TA) is a form of psychoanalytic theory developed in the 1950s, which focuses on analysing social interactions. One of the key functions of TA is to identify ‘unconscious scripts’ — learned patterns of behaviour, thought and feeling — that hinder growth and autonomy.
Betwixt integrates processes designed to help you recognise — and rewrite — the scripts that prevent you from achieving your full potential, or from living a healthy, happy and connected life.
Positive Psychology is ‘the scientific study of what makes life worth living’ (Peterson, 2008). This approach encourages us to find and cultivate our strengths, rather than fixate on our weaknesses. Its aim is to get people to focus on building a better life, not on fixing problems.
Betwixt features elements of Positive Psychology that help you discover the things that bring you joy, happiness, connection and purpose.
Cognitive Hypnotherapy is a modern approach that draws on recent discoveries from evolutionary psychology, positive psychology and cognitive theory, and a broad range of therapeutic styles.
What differentiates Cognitive Hypnotherapy from more traditional styles of hypnotherapy is the recognition that the ‘trance state’ is neither rare nor unnatural, but rather an everyday experience and a key part of how the mind learns. This means that any time you find yourself fully involved in an experience, you can make a meaningful difference to your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Betwixt uses story and interactivity to create the engagement necessary for change in the areas that are most important to you.