The Science Behind it All

The creation of Turn was shaped and inspired by seven converging areas of scientific discovery, each establishing one key element of what became our larger vision. These include:

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Brain Changeability

Although scientists now understand the degree to which the brain is changeable, the general public does not. These exciting biological discoveries provide an important rationale for both the general hope infused throughout our training, and the specific practical strategies that can help enhance and catalyze brain changes associated with more lasting healing and recovery.

Risk Factors

Few realize how much rigorous study has gone into the many different environmental and lifestyle conditions that set people up for behavioral and emotional struggles. By guiding people to identify unique, underlying contributors to their own struggles, our apps and platforms help inform more comprehensive and personalized plans for deeper healing and recovery.

Lifestyle Interventions

Hundreds of studies have explored the impact of specific adjustments to these same lifestyle and environmental factors when it comes to finding greater healing and recovery. The scope of these findings provides extensive scientific backing to the hopeful education provided in the Turn trainings.


Hundreds of studies have explored what happens when people infuse their experiences, especially painful ones, with more space, silence, and stillness. As people learn to approach a difficult problem from a gentler, calmer place, research consistently documents how suffering decreases, and healing grows. That’s why we provide instruction and mindful practices unique to these issues.

Behavior Change

Over the last three decades, a great deal of scientific research has explored key mechanisms of legitimate and lasting behavioral change. We’ve paid careful attention to these discoveries in creating both our technological infrastructure, and the specific content and strategies within our online platforms and mobile apps.


Gaming research got us interested in leveraging gamification as an added stimulus to people’s ongoing healing journeys. On a variety of levels, we continue to find ways this lighter-hearted, playful approach can help shift individuals out of a “fight or flight” mentality—into a more resilient place where deeper learning and growth can take place.

Digital Health & Education

Technological developments that allow remote education, and long-distance support for people facing health challenges have influenced the design and technical decisions in our platforms and apps—including in designing tech to help facilitate more dynamic support between those hurting and the ones they love and trust.

Frequently asked questions

What's the scientific background for your Turn Well-being Surveys?

The well-being surveys have developed over many years of study and development from a team of Ph.D. researchers in psychology and family studies. As much as possible, individual survey questions were adapted or inspired by existing measures, including: the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the Oxford Happiness Inventory, the State Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Peace of Mind Scale, the State Hope Scale, the Perceived Stress Scale, the UCLA Loneliness Scale, the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), the Relate Inventory, the Hypersexual Behavior Inventory and the OQ-45. On a broader structural level, we follow here what is called “dimensional assessment,” which aims to capture progression along a full spectrum extending from various levels of distress (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, physical discomfort, shame, discouragement, isolation, etc.), to their corresponding states of health (happiness, peace, healing from trauma, physical wellness, self-compassion, hope, connection, etc). This innovative approach to measurement is increasingly being embraced as the crucial next step for measurement and assessment (see the 2017 paper by 39 leading academics, “The hierarchical taxonomy of psychopathology (HiTOP): A dimensional alternative to traditional nosologies”). We were also inspired to go in this direction by popular scales such as the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and the OECD Subjective Well-being Scale, which have measured both positive and negative experiences effectively for many years. By helping Turn members see their progress along a broader spectrum spanning negative and positive indicators, we believe this will help better document the full dimensions of a comprehensive change process, while also providing ongoing encouragement for people to continue seeking even deeper healing.

Is there a scientific background for the Turn Lifestyle Inventories?

There sure is! Each of the nine areas of lifestyle adjustments we’ve chosen to focus on (Environment, Sleep, Exercise, Nutrition, Mental Diet, Social Support & Accountability, Stress, Meaning & Purpose, and Mindfulness) have been confirmed in many hundreds of studies as potentially significant influences on healing and recovery from compulsive-addictive patterns. In addition, the extra questions made available as optional assessments are drawn directly from many empirical studies we’ve personally reviewed. Bottom line: the medical research clearly documents (through different overlapping lines of observational, correlational, and controlled evidence) the value of not only paying attention to lifestyle contributors to addiction, but also thinking more seriously about how to adjust these in a better direction as a way to spark deeper healing from compulsive-addictive patterns.

How does your approach in Turn compare to other methods to help people find change?

The approach we take in Turn wasn’t developed in a vacuum. Rather than an entirely different approach, our effort reflects an eclectic attempt to bring together anything we’ve found already proving to help deepen healing and spark more lasting freedom. That includes aspects of behavioral activation, narrative psychology, cognitive behavioral approaches, mindfulness, and spiritual-based approaches like the 12 steps. Our belief is there are many different ideas and strategies that can be helpful - and that what uniquely strengthens someone can vary significantly from one moment to another. If that’s true, then why not let people see the whole smorgasbord of options? Consistently, people tell us they are encouraged by very different parts of the Turn training and platform.

What kind of research and evaluation has been done on the results and outcomes associated with apps and platforms like this one?

When you look across online tools to help people find more healing, one thing you find is most online interventions center around one strategy - with the most highly researched one, for example, online "CBT – cognitive behavioral therapy." As one researcher notes, "Despite the large number of health care apps developed so far, the majority has only simple functionality and does little more than provide information" (Becker, et al. 2014)So how does this matter for results? One central finding in an in-depth review of internet-delivered interventions promoting health behavior change in 43,236 different participants was that "interventions that incorporated more behavior change techniques tended to have larger effects than interventions that incorporated fewer techniques\" (Web, et al., 2010). As another scholar summarized, "research shows that workplace interventions are more effective when they involve evidence-based principles that offer a variety of engagement modalities" (Cancelliere, et al. 2011).Dr. Joseph Grenney, author of The Influencer, concurs: "it is not the strategies in-and-of themselves that make the difference, it is how many of the strategies you choose to employ at one time; the more strategies, the more successful the odds of changing the behavior."2012 study reviewed 3336 paid health and fitness apps in Apple's iTunes store with a focus on 3 main psychological factors that can drive behavior change, as identified by the Precede-Proceed Model (PPM). Namely, devices can be tools, mediums, or social actors. These are (1) predisposing, which increase the user’s capability; (2) enabling, which facilitates an authentic experience for users; and (3) reinforcing. These 3 factors assist the user in establishing and strengthening relationships and performing the required actions repeatedly (all three components are a part of our apps). Check out what they found:Most of the apps were coded as either predisposing or enabling with only 6.65% of apps classed as reinforcing. Only 1.86% (62/3336) of apps included all 3 factors, which may help explain why health behaviors have not shifted dramatically since the emergence of apps. (West et al., 2012)One conclusion evident in the existing research, then, is that apps that provide support in different ways, through multi-strategy approaches, have deeper impacts than those that do not.1 Fogg BJ. Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do. In: Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do. Waltham, MA: Morgan Kaufmann; 2002

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