When was the last time you had a mental health check-up?
According to the statistics released by WHO, 450 million people have mental illness today!
Mental health issues are most likely to affect one out of four people. Though this can be treated, nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental illness never reach out for help from a health professional because of the social stigma attached to it.
This not just makes it hard for people to seek aid by consulting a professional, but also prevents therapists and clinical research psychologists from rehabilitating such people.
But what if we were to say that there’s someone who would listen? An expert who can give you advice & peer support, diagnose your condition, give you emotional support, and help you book an appointment with a counsellor?
Today, as the need for mental health services surpass accessibility, people in distress can reach out to ‘therapist chatbots’.
What are therapy chatbots?
Therapy bots are basically chatbots which can provide online therapy, using the rules of emotional reasoning and Artificial Intelligence. But then, the inevitable question in everyone's mind is- “Is it possible to automate the expertise needed to become an effective therapist?” Well, the responses in these chatbots mainly comprises of two elements.
In some instances, the responses are based on Machine Learning. In some, there’s a human element involved. When automation and human assistance work together, the online therapy bot can nurture and assist patients in a better manner.
Eliza - the first therapy bot online
Eliza was the first therapy bot to go online. In fact, the original ELIZA, was the first chatbot created by Joseph Weizenbaum at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. There were several versions of ELIZA created, but the most popular version was called DOCTOR. It was built to respond like a Rogerian psychotherapist.
Later on, the chatbot, PARRY, was created to act as a a patient with schizophrenia. The creator of PARRY, Kenneth Colby said that PARRY was, "ELIZA with attitude."
There was even a conversation between ELIZA and PARRY carried out in January 1973 via th use of ARPANET. ELIZA was based at MIT, playing the role of a therapist while PARRY at Stanford, playing the role of a therapist.
How can Mental health chatbots help in therapy?
Chatbots are popular for instant replies, easy availability and better user experience. And that’s what we need during difficult times! If you’re a therapist, chatbots online can help you accelerate your mission!
A therapist's job isn't easy and being available 24/7 hours is impossible. Hence, you can integrate a 24 7 therapist chatbot on your website.
It can automate tasks such as booking slots, managing appointments, sending out daily tips and even merge methods of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) into your dialogue flow.
When a user approaches your online therapist bot, it engages them in conversations and uses mood detection to provide proper guidance. While these clever chatbots automate your work for you, they also come in handy for your customers by eliminating time constraints.
Another major advantage of therapy chatbots is that they shatter the language barrier. With 54 language options available, they can take care of your patients in their language of choice.
If a patient recovering from substance abuse feels like they are at a high risk of relapse in the middle of the night, they might not be able to reach their therapist, but a therapy bot can have a conversation with them and help them find a way to respond to the situation without using substances.
These bots aren’t meant to replace a licensed therapist, but they could be rather useful in letting patients access mental health care when they cannot get in touch with their therapist.
Chatbots for cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy works on the principle that changes in the way of thinking and acting affect how the person feels.
Through its conversational nature, intelligent chatbots can practice cognitive behaviour therapy to some extent. This can help patients become more aware of negative and/or inaccurate thinking and is helpful in treating conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and eating disorders.
Even though therapy was fine twice a month, a patient was very much receptive towards a chatbot built on Stanford research that delivers a digital version of cognitive behavioural therapy.
- Wired News on Chatbot as a Therapist.
While chatbots can be useful here, it is important to remember that they are not intended to replace actual, licensed therapists. The purpose of a therapy chatbot is to fill in the gaps and help therapists treat patients, not to treat patients completely on their own.
The bot’s task would be to challenge distorted thinking and then encourage patients to express their moods more clearly. AI specialists work deeply with psychologists and therapists to create a set of conversational exchanges that help the user to go through the CBT practice.
However, it is also better to have a specialized therapist with whom the patient can eventually meet to evaluate the progress or the state of the patient regarding the condition.
Connecting to real therapists
While chatbots can help with certain issues, there are many where the expertise of a human therapist would be required. An intelligent chatbot can use live chat to route patients to a live therapist who specializes in handling the issue that the patient faces.
You can reduce the stress of hopping across therapists by contextually routing the patient to a therapist that is equipped to help with the issue.
Most people refrain from going to a therapist or for a mental check-up. Because this area has been misjudged and the stigma of a person consulting a therapist ‘must have gone crazy’ still continues in many societies.
However, psychologist chatbots in the mental health sector are promising. They are always available and a seemingly effective method of getting mental health services, via your device. The most obvious advantage is convenience, reducing the barriers to therapy.
Therefore, these chatbot services can help your patients anytime with little commitment. With their omnipresence over all the sectors, the future looks bright with chatbots! To build your own chatbot, visit our website.