Hi, I’m Woebot… “I’m ready…

Hi, I’m Woebot

“I’m ready to listen, 24/7. No couches, no meds, no childhood stuff. Just strategies to improve your mood. And the occasional dorky joke

A friendly chatbot therapist in your device, ready for you 24/7… Cool, I think this kind of AI is very promising indeed, probably too immature to compete with standard human-to-human therapy, but at the end that is a matter of time, i.e. data.

They did a controlled trial at Stanford University and results seem optimistic:

Fitzpatrick KK, Darcy A, Vierhile M
Delivering Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Young Adults With Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Using a Fully Automated Conversational Agent (Woebot): A Randomized Controlled Trial
JMIR Ment Health 2017;4(2):e19
DOI: 10.2196/mental.7785
PMID: 28588005
PMCID: 5478797

Even though the conclusions warn us to take these results with a pinch of salt (e.g. need to be replicated), also state:

“[…] this study nonetheless demonstrates that a text-based conversational agent designed to mirror therapeutic process has the potential to offer an alternative and engaging method of delivering CBT for some 10 million college students in the United States who experience debilitating anxiety and depression.”