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Can Robots Replace Mental Health Professionals In The Near Future?

Robots are the future. You might soon see robots working as factory workers, umpires, bookkeepers, and legal assistants in the times to come. This implies that people might lose their jobs in the next two decades and that’s alarming. However, what about those jobs which need a human touch? Are they safe?

As per the new innovations, artificial intelligence or AI has already started to invade into the mental and physical health care sector. People have always been satisfied with receiving mental health treatment from humans who can breathe. Can AI and robots fill up that space? Can an unfeeling robot replace experienced therapists and counselors? The following points will discuss that.

The Story Of Woebot

AI has made some remarkable progress in recent times. For example Woebot, a new program from the researchers at Stanford. In case you don’t know Woebot is, it is a chatbot therapist. Woebot administers CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Once people observe all their negative thoughts in an unbiased manner, they begin to identify the patterns and triggers and attempt to preempt them.

Woebot intimates the user’s daily basis through messages. Since Woebot is a robot, it takes a user’s response into account and decodes them over time. Aside from that, it also recognizes any mood change and can put forth suggestions just like a therapist.

What Can The Woebot Do?

According to experts, the Woebot helps people set aside to get past their fears of being stigmatized. It helps them get proper mental health care in a way that they are familiar with. And this happens without revealing the patient’s identity. People who have certain apprehensions in sharing their feelings with their close ones and struggle on that front have a certain comfort level in confiding in Woebot.

Though Woebot is not an exact substitute for face-to-face therapy and everyone doesn’t have the money or time to visit an experienced therapist, researchers believe that these things can be beneficial. According to research, Woebot can be helpful in diminishing depression and anxiety in people.

The Story Of Ellie

If you refer to the past history, this, in all probability, is not the first time a robotic therapist has been created. Ellie the robot was created to help seniors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It listens to people without judging them. Therefore, people are more confident in sharing their feelings with them. Ellie has the power to analyze facial expressions, eye gaze, voice tone, and head gestures and detect post-traumatic stress disorder in individuals who have come for help.

However, there are a couple of catches here. Sometimes people start a therapy session but lack the motivation to continue with the session, thus resisting an improvement in their behavior or a change in their environment. It is tough to infer who will persist with the therapy or who won’t.

The Silver Lining

However, experts are finding out ways to motivate people to help them stick to the entire process religiously. Users get the necessary encouragement to traverse through environments, virtual in nature. During the process, the scenarios started getting harder from one phase to another and users have to apply more energy.

An individual’s performance allows researchers to measure their motivation levels and introduce mental health treatment that keeps them committed. A very difficult phase of treating individuals during mental health issues is to identify those intending to commit self-harm. Suicidal thoughts don’t erupt from an isolated incident like loss of a job, death of a dear one, or a breakup in a relationship.

Though this might be an unpredictable situation for clinicians, scientists are working day and night how machine learning might prove to be indispensable. By scanning a bulk of data and deriving patterns that humans might overlook, robots could spot patients with suicidal tendencies. Having said all of these, robots are all geared up to replace the therapists. The rapist but, they are unable to connect with clients genuinely and help individuals come pit of their present state of mind. As of now, only humans can accomplish the task. So, mental health professionals have little to worry about. They can be confident about not losing their jobs to the machines anytime soon!

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