Personal Zen

Personal Zen is an Apple™ app designed to help users reduce anxiety. It tasks users with playing a simple game that helps shift attention away from fears and anxiety. According to the developers, playing this game over time can lead to a long-lasting ability to reduce anxiety in stressful situations. This can be helpful to individuals (with or without a diagnosed anxiety disorder) who need a brief, calming distraction from their troubles.

Available for: Apple™ devices
Company: Personal Zen, LLC
Classification: general
Targeted conditions: Stress & Anxiety
Target demographic: Adolescents and Adults
Special provider necessary: No
Non-English Language version available: No
Where to get it: iTunes

Expert ratings and reviews

PsyberGuide rating: The research and support basis of the product

Total score: 11/14

Basis of research: 1/3
Source of funding for the research: 2/2
Specificity of proposed intervention: 2/3
Number of consumer ratings: 3/3
Product advisory support:  1/1
Software support:  2/2

date of rating: June 2016

Explanation of the rating factors

MARS rating

Quality scores range from 1 to 5, where 5 is the maximum score


Objective quality score: 3.77

Subscale scores:

Engagement: 3.30

Functionality: 4.88

Aesthetics: 3.33

Information: 3.58

Subjective quality score: 1.88

Perceived impact score: 1.33


Rated by: Queensland University

Date of rating: August 2016

More information about the MARS scale

Expert review

Read the expert review by Bethanne L. Moore MD

Research on the product

Research page on the developer’s website:


  1. Dennis-Tiwary, T., Egan, L.J., Babkirk, S., and Denefrio, S. (2016). For whom the bell tolls: Neurocognitive individual differences in the acute stress-reduction effects of an attention bias modification game for anxiety.>Behaviour Research and Therapy, 77, 105-117.
    • “Results of the present study demonstrated that a single session of gamified ABMT [Attention Bias Modification Training] improved performance during an anxiety-related stress task among females only, and stress-reduction effects varied with individual differences in the rapid deployment of neurocognitive responses to threat” (p. 112).
    • “In the present study, ABMT did not result in reductions in untrained measures of threat bias (measured via the dot probe) or in anxiety symptom reduction” (p. 114).
    • “Taken together, these results provide growing support for the utility and neurocognitive bases of an alternative delivery approach for ABMT. However, several methodological limitations should be considered when interpreting findings” (p. 114).
  2. Dennis, T.A. & O’Toole, L.J. (2014). Mental health on the go: Effects of a gamified attention-bias modification mobile application in trait-anxious adults. Clinical Psychological Science, 2(5), 576-590. doi:10.1177/2167702614522228
    • “The present study provides evidence that an alternative delivery strategy for ABMT—a gamified mobile app— shows transfer of benefits to independent, untrained lab-based measures of anxiety and stress reactivity after a single session of training.”
    • “A single session of the active training relative to the placebo training reduced subjective anxiety and observed stress reactivity.”
    • “Critically, the long (45 min) but not the short (25 min) active training condition reduced the core cognitive process implicated in [attention-bias modification training] (threat bias)…”

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