Bringing psychology, sound and story together
Betwixt is based on two of the best studied emotion regulation skills – cognitive reappraisal and self-compassion – which lie at the core of CBT and mindfulness-based therapies (see a selection of studies below). What Betwixt does differently is integrate these evidence-based tools into an experience that’s exciting, inspiring, deeply personal and even, some say, magical.
The distinct combination of story and play that you find in Betwixt goes beyond delight; it’s actually key to the app’s positive impacts. Interactive narrative creates a low-stakes environment that enables experiential learning: a potent way of mastering new skills through self-driven exploration, rather than instruction. What’s more, Betwixt’s immersive experience has been designed to strengthen and focus attention, directing it to those areas where self-awareness can make the biggest difference.
The app has been developed over the course of three years in collaboration with users, mental health professionals, researchers, designers, writers and human-computer interaction experts. Unlike most mental health and wellness apps (and even wearables), we’re continually investing in high-quality research.
Below is a glimpse into the completed and ongoing studies on Betwixt:
Mindful Entertainment: A User Experience Study of Betwixt
Dr Charlie Hargood, Dr Lyle Skains and Dr Sofia Kitromili analysed the experience of 24 Betwixt users, using in-depth interviews
The Magic of the In-Between: Mental Resilience through Interactive Narrative
Dr Sarah Harmon (AI creativity researcher) highlights Betwixt’s difference from other interactive tools focused on mental wellbeing
A Randomised Controlled Trial evaluating Betwixt’s impact on stress and depression (awaiting publication)
A 500-person study, supervised by behaviour researcher Dr Hanneke Scholten
A Randomised Controlled Trial assessing Betwixt as an emotion regulation tool (upcoming) with Dr. Carmen Morawetz at the Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience Lab (University of Innsbruck)
A research study evaluating Betwixt as an aid for people waiting for psychological therapies through the National Health Service in the UK (upcoming)
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.
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.
References and resources for further reading
If you want to learn more about the theory and research that underlies the content and design of Betwixt, here is a selection of studies:
Betwixt draws on 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.