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Woebot, the Digital Therapist!

by Sushree Mohanty

Woebot, the Digital Therapist!

June 4, 2021

Imagine it's midnight, you woke up from a dream, anxiety calls you close, and you want to reach out to someone. Now, in the middle of the night, no doctors can rush to help you out. But what if a bot comes to your rescue? So, will this cold-hearted tech mechanism understand and solve your problem?

"If we can deliver some of the things that humans can deliver, then we actually can create something that's truly scalable, that can reduce the incidence of suffering in the population."

- Alison Darcy, a psychologist and the founder & president of Woebot Health.
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Woebot is a therapeutic AI-powered mental health chatbot that brings hope to the new generation of digital therapeutics for a lifetime. 

What is Woebot?

Claiming to be a self-help expert, Woebot is a therapeutic AI-powered mental health chatbot that brings hope to the new generation of digital therapeutics.

For Woebot, your mental health is as important as your physical being. Here, your psychiatrist swapped for an intelligent bot that will respond to you with favorable solutions and thoughts.

While the human clan imagined carrying an indifferent mask over the face, the need for actual therapists is continuously growing. This application presents itself as a self-help automated therapist when you cannot find the right therapist for your mind.

Pandemic and Mental Health

During the pandemic, approximately half of the human population have experienced the symptoms of depression or anxiety. This is just the beginning. Medical statistics reveal that almost 40 per cent of those who suffered from anxiety were not aware of their mental health, and nearly 20 per cent ignored it. 

However, with such an increase in the number of people suffering from an acute unstable and unbalanced level of mental health, Woebot Health says that this pandemic has raised the demand for its services. 

Strange but true! The number of daily users is rising day by day. Alison Darcy, a psychologist and the founder and president of the Woebot Health company, stated that the idea is not to replace professional therapists with automated bots, as both are crucial.

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The number of daily users excited and is rising day by day.

Our Mental Health Needs Attention

Mental health is essential, so is business. Investing and maintaining an equilibrium in the field of emotions held by technology has become a multibillion-dollar industry today. More than 10 thousand applications have been launched in the name of keeping mental health safe and sound. 

After counting heartbeat rate, menstruation cycle, new apps and tools claim to administer mental therapy. This ranges from a bot for sharing thoughts, guided meditation, mood tracking to text therapy by licensed and professional counsellors.

In 2017, Woebot was introduced as a self-help expert and as a specialized application that uses artificial intelligence to deploy the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy. And this is how it claims to treat our anxiety and depression. It aims to use everyday, understandable language that processes and mimics conversations.

Most traditional experts are aware of the irony of a computerized system trying to solve problems related to human emotions. However, most psychologists agree with Dr. Darcy, that we don’t have enough affordable mental health care for those who need it. So, there is a need for a revolution in this field. And bots can be the answer. Some believe that bot therapy can work under the right conditions, but it can never replace human therapists, because computers cannot empathize. 

Some renowned mental health professionals opine that machines should never deliver therapy. There is a lot more to effective treatment. It involves more than just a mere understanding of cognitive skill-building. In every therapy session, the therapist builds a rapport with the individual, and hence a connection is created.

Therapists mark minute changes, behavioral reflections, observe gestures and bridge the gap between what’s said and unsaid.

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Woebot was introduced as a self-help expert and as a specialized application that uses artificial intelligence to deploy the principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy.

Firsthand Experience

In 2019, Eli Spector, a 24-year-old college graduate earning his bread at a neuroscience lab in Philadelphia, turns on Woebot. His job was tedious, leading him to feel lonely and bored. He even couldn’t sleep well, resulting in the deterioration of his mental health. 

Dr. Darcy opines that Woebot is a well-designed bot that can build an empathetic bond with the users resulting in smooth therapy. However, Spector tried Woebot because he was reluctant to speak his soul out to a human therapist.

Rather than paying a fortune for a professional therapist, he discovers the application called Woebot for free of cost on his phone. In the summer of 2019, Eli Spector started using Woebot. He realized that it became a habit, and worse was realizing how depressed he was in reality. He also took advantage of other features like writing an online journal.

Then came a day when he began doubting the algorithm of therapy provided by Woebot because it does not seem to approach actual treatment. Unimpressed by the bot’s advice on realistic problems, Eli Spector went ahead to delete the application from his phone.

Machines have indeed made our lives easier, but we shouldn’t forget that human relationships and bonds supersedes mechanical wires. They might make things easier by providing the best services but don’t possess a heart to imbibe in emotions and thus might not solve real-life problems.

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