How do you get from psychotherapy to natural language processing to healthcare to mobile applications in one blog?
Easy. Check out http://mcnallylab.com/ and their related study http://handheldtrainingstudy.com/. Richard McNally is a professor at Harvard. He and his team are researching cognitive behavior modification (CBM) and a new technique that uses computer programs to focus patients on a positive thought when they might normally jump to a related negative thought. (Such as, “He didn’t say hello to me so he must not like me,” becomes, “he didn’t say hello to me. Perhaps he did not see me.”)
CBM can be traced back to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a means of rigorously identifying alternative behaviors that would have led to more successful outcomes in personal situations. Cognating the alternatives can lead patients to react differently in the future with better outcomes.
CBT relies heavily on a therapist. CBM potentially cuts out the mediator using a computer.
So follow me here…
Now, let’s go back to 1964. I was a 2 year old (yes, I know, I may still be). Joseph Weisenbaum began creating ELIZA, one of the earliest popular chat bots that among other things, simulated a psychotherapist with a script called DOCTOR. Weisenbaum meant it as a parody, perhaps of both the idea that computers might one day think and person centered therapy (PCT), the common all-accepting version of psychotherapy. However, some latched onto it as a revolutionary, democratizing aid to healing psychological problems, all to Waisenbaum’s dismay.
So out of a theoretical disaster, we snatch success. Take roughly the same idea, take out the notion of simulating or realizing true human intelligence, focus it on a specific form of therapy routed in logic, and voila! Victory.
Stay with me…
So where’s the mobility application? McNally’s group uses a mobile app to conduct the study. Only guessing here, but I suppose the mobile app makes the study better, faster and cheaper, while allowing the events and monitoring to be embedded in a subject’s ordinary life rather than in laboratory setting.
So what did we learn on the show today, Craig?
Except that anxiety prone IT practitioners can enroll in McNally’s study and perhaps relieve themselves from stress rather than giving up and taking a normal job.