Designing an Adaptive Chatbot to Guide Users through Therapeutic Writing
- Type:Bachelor / Master Thesis
Mental health resources, such as face-to-face psychotherapy sessions are scarce with long waiting lists. Conversational agents, e.g. in the form of chatbots, can deliver low-threshold, flexible, scalable and cost-effective interventions aiming at promoting psychological well-being. One such intervention is therapeutic writing, where participants write about autobiographical life events. This intervention has consistently been associated with physical and mental health benefits in past research.
Chatbots can offer interactions that better guide the user through their thought processes and assist their narrative to avoid ruminative or brooding thought, a counter factor that is often discussed in therapeutic writing. For example, Bendig et al. (2021) have developed a Software agent providing a brief Intervention for Self-help to Uplift psychological well-being (“SISU”) which guides users through a therapeutic writing task, but has not fully utilized the interactive potential of chatbots.
Goal of the Thesis:
The goal of the thesis project is to design, implement and evaluate a chatbot which guides users through therapeutic writing and responds to users’ narratives with adaptive responses and follow-up questions. This project can build on SISU: The first step should be to implement SISU in one of the existing chatbot frameworks (preferably Microsoft Bot Framework or Rasa). In a next step, the chatbot would need to become more adaptive. While ideas for adaptivity, such as matching chatbot responses to sentiments, can be taken from Park et al. (2021), your own ideas are more than welcome. Finally, besides designing and implementing the chatbot, an evaluation concept should be defined and executed at least in a small-scale pilot study.
Bendig, E., Erb, B., Meißner, D., Bauereiß, N., & Baumeister, H. (2021). Feasibility of a Software agent providing a brief Intervention for Self-help to Uplift psychological wellbeing (“SISU”). A single-group pretest-posttest trial investigating the poten
Park, S., Thieme, A., Han, J., Lee, S., Rhee, W., & Suh, B. (2021, June). “I wrote as if I were telling a story to someone I knew.”: Designing Chatbot Interactions for Expressive Writing in Mental Health. In Designing Interactive Systems Conference 2021
Vaidyam, A. N., Wisniewski, H., Halamka, J. D., Kashavan, M. S., & Torous, J. B. (2019). Chatbots and conversational agents in mental health: a review of the psychiatric landscape. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 64(7), 456-464.
Interest in chatbots, natural language processing and mental health/well-being
The advertised project will be done in collaboration with Eileen Bendig from the University of Ulm as part of the larger project “A conversational agent for youths suffering from major depression (CADY)“