The mental health screenings of the future, as hinted by Ellie the virtual therapist


How Vir­tu­al Ther­a­py Could Help the Mil­i­tary Fight PTSD (NBC News):

In Afghanistan, a new ther­a­pist is talk­ing with sol­diers. Her name is Ellie, she is the face of a com­put­er pro­gram and she could be the key to iden­ti­fy­ing PTSD in America’s military.

Equipped with a Microsoft Kinect motion sen­sor, she nods at the right time, urges patients on with a well-timed “uh-huh,” and knows when to stop talk­ing. A study released ear­li­er this month found that patients were more will­ing to open up to Ellie than to a human ther­a­pist, most­ly because they felt like they were not being judged by the com­put­er program.

Ellie isn’t designed to replace ther­a­pists. Instead, her pro­gram, called Sim­Sen­sei, could be used as a screen­ing tool for the mil­i­tary and hospitals…

Plans are being drawn to cre­ate booths in VA hos­pi­tals where vet­er­ans can talk to Ellie when­ev­er they would like. Oth­er tech­nol­o­gy, like the Ocu­lus Rift vir­tu­al real­i­ty glass­es, is also being test­ed by researchers to help treat PTSD.”

Study: It’s only a com­put­er: Vir­tu­al humans increase will­ing­ness to dis­close (Com­put­ers in Human Behavior)

  • Abstract: Research has begun to explore the use of vir­tu­al humans (VHs) in clin­i­cal interviews…In health and men­tal health con­texts, patients are often reluc­tant to respond hon­est­ly. In the con­text of health-screen­ing inter­views, we report a study in which par­tic­i­pants inter­act­ed with a VH inter­view­er and were led to believe that the VH was con­trolled by either humans or automa­tion. As pre­dict­ed, com­pared to those who believed they were inter­act­ing with a human oper­a­tor, par­tic­i­pants who believed they were inter­act­ing with a com­put­er report­ed low­er fear of self-dis­clo­sure, low­er impres­sion man­age­ment, dis­played their sad­ness more intense­ly, and were rat­ed by observers as more will­ing to dis­close. These results sug­gest that auto­mat­ed VHs can help over­come a sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­er to obtain­ing truth­ful patient information.

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SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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