I spent 2 weeks chatting with a robot about my anxiety - here's how it went
Jan 30, 2018, 23:55 IST
The first message appeared around 6 p.m., while I was on the bus. I cupped a hand around my phone and stole a furtive glance at the gray bubble on the screen.
Alison Darcy, a clinical psychologist at Stanford University, created Woebot based on cognitive-behavioral therapy, which encourages people to examine how they react to challenging situations.
In one of my first interactions with Woebot, I told it about a time I had felt nervous about not being good or smart enough.
This classic CBT-style feedback is one of the reasons Woebot might be able to deliver therapy within the context of text messages.
At times, chatting with Woebot felt like a conversation. But most of the time, it felt more like a game in which each interaction provided a small kernel of wisdom that Woebot remembered and stored for later.
An obvious advantage of Woebot is that it's constantly available with the tap of an icon (provided you have a smartphone). I once chatted with Woebot late at night was when I was feeling panicky.
After a few chat sessions, Woebot had me list some goals for my progress, which I really appreciated.
Still, Darcy is emphatic that Woebot is not a replacement for traditional therapy — and that means it may fall short for some people.
Although I don't check in daily with Woebot anymore, I find it comforting to know that it's there on my phone whenever I want a bit of perspective.