Last week I had the pleasure to chat with Amelia Roberts, RN on her podcast. She owns “Solutions By Amelia”, whose mission is to “Do Entrepreneurship In Healthy Way”. She works with healthcare providers and others to help build their business and social media presence.
We talked about a variety of ways you can use social media for professional development. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Amelia last year on the Symplur/MedX challenge. We were able to dive deep into some social media analytics to find out of suicide prevention and professionals were “talking on twitter”.
We caught up on how I have been using social media to grow professionally, “listen” to conversations, and network… it was a great conversation and check it out here…
Earlier this summer, articles about “WoeBot” took social media by storm. Or at least in the mental health and technology circles I hang with. And in case you missed it the WoeBot is a automated chatbot that checks on you daily and offers some “sessions” in cognitive behavioral therapy. It was again brought up on Facebook and I sort of dismissed it. My gut reaction is there is no way that robot could replace a therapist and if it did. It would be rather clunky.
A robot doing therapy would probably look something like this. It would give a try but fall a bit short…
I thought about writing a blog post based on this GIF alone but wanted to do more research. Life happened and I moved on to other things. But a recent conversation on twitter renewed this topic for me and helped me refine my message…
The above articles and resources provided some more “use cases” for chat bots in both healthcare and mental health. This helped tip the scale for me. I am certainly more open the possibility of chatbots for mental health. Still maintaining my stance that technology can be an adjunct to treatment but not a full on replacement.
I think the WoeBot can be good adjunct to therapy. There could be two very useful scenarios. One would be those who are placed on a wait-list. To start some WoeBot sessions to get a sense of what CBT is like and if it is a good fit. The data that is generated can be useful for the first actual session. Similar to previous posts I have argued that data generated by using technology can create a “sitting around the campfire” talking about it scene. You can go into the session and talk about what you and WoeBot did.
The other useful scenario is as a bridge between therapy sessions. That again the conversation with the WoeBot can reinforce the face to face relationship with the therapist. Also thinking about how a WoeBot can be part of somebody’s discharge plan. That after you are done with therapy then use the WoeBot to reinforce things. If one does not feel like the WoeBot is enough they can promptly return to therapy.
I continue to be enthused about mental health apps. However I remain cautious of these being stand alone treatments. Yes there are not enough therapists and psychiatrists. Yes we need to do something different. And no mental health professionals don’t have to run the other way from technology. We should be embracing mental health apps as our assists. In the case of WoeBot our virtual assistant. It would be in the interest of therapists and maybe insurance companies to take a deeper dive into this technology to see how we can make therapy a more active than a passive experience.
I would love to know your thoughts on this topic. Please feel free to comment below, yell at me on twitter @StuckOnSW, or email me at StuckOnSW@yahoo.com
The last two weeks have presented an interesting convergence of events. As a social worker attempting to keep up with the latest technology, I use several means. One of them is to follow two hashtags on twitter. #SWtech is a smallish group of social workers interested in the latest technology and its impact on our profession. The other is #HITsm. Readers of this blog are probably a more aware of this larger community. Networking with those on the #HITsm hashtag has helped shed light on the barriers and also innovations that drive health information technology. This knowledge is something I have tried to bring back to the #SWtech group and my social media audience. The social work community has been little skittish about health information technology. That privacy and cost often limit our ability to implement technology.