I love the premise of the Ahead: Emotions Coach app. It promises to teach you all of the things you never learned about emotions and wish you did, comparing the style to Duolingo. "The Duolingo for emotional intelligence," the description on the Apple App Store reads. But what does that mean and does it work?
Simply put, emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of your emotions, express them and handle them. This might sound simple, but so often we're taught to suppress emotions as kids, which can then have a pretty negative – and sometimes explosive – effect as we get older.
Ahead: Emotions Coach wants to change that, providing you with not only a better understanding of emotions, but the tools to manage them day in and day out. Many of these tools and techniques would come up in therapy – especially CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy) – so if you're already working with a therapist or want an alternative way to learn the same strategies, this app is for you.
How does Ahead: Emotions coach work?
The app will help you to identify and then overcome unhelpful thought patterns, find out what's driving emotions – even things you may currently be blissfully unaware of – and learn what works for you rather than someone else.
The Duolingo comparison is a really handy one. Because just like the language learning app, you spend just five minutes each day working through a lesson about emotions that's part of a personalized journey toward a bigger goal.
Most of these are fun, illustrated and interactive, so if you've always wanted to learn more about emotions but get bored reading pages and pages of text, then this is a good option for you. Just like Duolingo, there are also ways to track your progress over time, which some people find is a great source of motivation.
One of my favorite parts of the app is where it teaches you simple steps for dealing with overwhelming emotions using tried and tested CBT techniques to get you to sit with the feeling and then work through it with small steps, like clenching a fist, understanding the emotion isn't you, only a part of you, and much more.
I'm not keen on the way the developers describe Ahead: Emotions Coach in the app store and think they could do with a copy revamp that's a little more sensitive to mental health issues.
But don't let that put you off, because the app itself is well worth your time, especially if you like the fun, illustrated and game-like way of learning popularized by Duolingo.
I think Ahead: Emotions Coach would be particularly powerful to use alongside other self development work or therapy, letting you bolster what you learn about your own emotions and how to better manage them when life gets in the way.
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Becca Caddy is a contributor to iMore, as well as a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than a decade, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality. Last time she checked, she still holds a Guinness World Record alongside iMore Editor in Chief Gerald Lynch for playing the largest game of Tetris ever made, too.