Joyable raises $2M for online social anxiety coaching program

By Aditi Pai
11:16 am

JoyableSan Francisco-based Joyable has raised $2 million from Thrive Capital, Harrison Metal, and angel investors including Benchmark Capital co-founder Andy Rachleff, according to a report over at TechCrunch.

Joyable has developed an online program, based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), that aims to help consumers improve their social anxiety. The company explains that one of the core concepts of CBT is that situations themselves don't cause people anxiety, but a person's interpretation of the situation does. So to overcome anxiety, a person has to learn how to interpret situations differently. 

First, users are paired with a coach who has been trained in CBT techniques. Before starting the program, users are invited to speak to the coach for 30 minutes on a phone call about how social anxiety affects them and what they want to get out of the program. After that, the program helps consumers identify and understand their social anxiety triggers. Activities users must complete to accomplish this include challenging anxious thoughts with evidence and developing alternative thoughts that are more helpful. Each activity takes around 10 minutes to complete.

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From there, Joyable teaches users techniques to reduce their anxiety by putting themselves in anxious situations and working on applying the skills they learned. The coach supports the user throughout the program through text and email, and the user can also reach out for help whenever they want. (Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the coach doesn't proactively reach out to the user throughout the program.) The program is available online, but can be accessed from smartphones and tablets. In the future, Joyable plans to develop native apps too.

The program is designed to last 12 weeks. If users want to pay as they go, Joyable's offering costs $99 per month, but if users buy three months upfront, it costs $239.

Eventually, Joyable aims to expand past social anxiety, the company told TechCrunch, and into conditions like generalized anxiety, OCD, and PTSD.

Several other companies are currently working on developing tools that help users manage stress and anxiety.

Last month, Boston-based Neumitra received an undisclosed amount of seed funding from the Thiel Foundation’s Breakout Labs for its stress monitoring program, which is powered by a wearable that continuously measures the autonomic nervous system to track stress levels. Neumitra’s wearable, called neuma, currently measures skin conductance (galvanic skin response), ambient temperature, and tri-axis motion.

Earlier this year, the NIH awarded researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute $2 million to further develop an app that helps people understand why they are overeating. The app, called Relax, is designed for patients who are in clinical programs to lose weight and manage stress. Relax uses text inputs, barcode scanning, and GPS technology to track the patient’s eating patterns, daily activities, exercise, mood, and stress inducing events. This way, patients can understand the relationship between food intake and their stress levels.

And a year ago, in March 2014, researchers published a study in Clinical Psychological Science that found after just 25 minutes of playing a particular health game, which is based on a cognitive treatment for anxiety called attention-bias modification training (ABMT), a stressed person's anxiety level was reduced.


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