Woebot, the Robot Therapist

Barclay Bram wrote about his year with Woebot, a robot therapist, at the New York Times. Unlike robot waiters, robot nurses, and robot truck drivers, robot therapists actually exist. At least, there are automated chatbot apps that provide services you might expect to get from a human therapist.

Bram found that he became “weirdly attached to my robot helper.” That seems to sum up the human experience of robot therapists. People enjoy using them, feel connected with them, benefit from using them, and in the end get fond of them. Researchers found that people said good night to their Woebots

Robot therapists?

Woebot doesn’t call itself a therapist. It calls its services a “personal mental health ally .” Bram found that Woebot did a lot of things human therapists do, and offered a lot of exercises, tips, and observations that were familiar from self-help books. he wasn’t amazed by Woebot’s insights or challenged to make big changes.

But he did find Woebot helpful.

A threat to human therapists?

Are mental health apps a threat to human therapists? By no means. First, an estimated one third of people who identify themselves as needing therapy actually get that help. There are a lot of reasons for this:

  • There aren’t enough therapists to go around.
  • The majority of psychiatrists do not offer talk therapy along with medication.
  • Insurance policies do not always cover therapy.
  • There continues to be a stigma about mental health issues, and men especially often hesitate to see a therapist.

Even people who have access to and funding for a therapist are not satisfied with the amount of time they get to spend in therapy. Therapists often schedule only one session a week with patients, but robots are available around the clock, every day of the year.

Presumably, there will still be people who prefer to work with human therapists, so the robot therapists may simply offer access to those who currently don’t have it.

Academic researchers even suggested that robot therapists have some advantages over humans: they remember everything their patients say, they don’t judge (unless of course they’re programmed to do so) and they don’t get bored or tired. Woebot is also free.

Indramat doesn’t offer therapy

Indramat made exceptionally good motion control systems. Even now, decades after the company was acquired by Rexroth, which is now Bosch Rexroth, Indramat drives and controls are still in use all over the world.

When you need service or support for your Indramat systems, call on us. We’ll get you back up and running fast.