Can New Virtual Therapists Change the Way We Learn CBT for Good? (5 min read)

Overview - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Virtual Therapists

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A Brief History of CBT and Virtual Therapists

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or popularly known as CBT was first found in the works of noted psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the 1960s. Beck was of the opinion that the cause of our life’s emotional problems lie in our way of thinking which he called the ‘automatic negative thoughts’ and developed the process of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a solution for them.

Contrary to earlier forms of therapies which were based on punishments, reinforcements, and associations for changing the behavior of the patient, CBT focuses on the thought processes that lie behind these behaviors and studies the emotions it creates as an effect. It is one of the most researched forms of therapy as it is a goal-oriented method and results can be achieved relatively easily. 

It is among the most preferred method of therapy for a wide range of mental and psychological illnesses. In this article, we aim to provide an overview of this therapy in detail and explain how virtual therapists and mental health chatbots can simplify the way we take CBT.

Where is CBT used?

CBT is widely used in treating various forms of mental illnesses. Since its inception, CBT therapy for depression and CBT therapy for anxiety has gained huge attention among mental health professionals. In addition to providing relief to patients suffering from depression and anxiety, CBT can also be used to treat mental illnesses like: 

  • Addiction
  • Anger issues
  • Bipolar Disorders
  • Borderline Personality Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic attacks
  • Phobias
  • Post – Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Problems related to increased drug and alcohol abuse
  • Problems with stress
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleep issues such as insomnia or hypersomnia 

How is CBT practiced?

Depending upon the severity and nature of your mental illness, CBT is prescribed to you with a therapist either once or twice a week. Each session lasts for a time of 30 to 50 minutes, your normal course of treatment shall range from 5 to 20 sessions. Usually, sessions are individual but sometimes there also may be group sessions with the therapist which helps the patient to interact with other people facing similar issues to them.

During an individual session, your therapist (that is, a real therapist or a virtual therapist) assists you to break down your problem into small parts and then create small goals to find solutions for them. You and your therapist shall work together to find out whether these solutions are viable or not for you and the people around you. Your therapist will also help you to work out how could you change these unusual thoughts and behaviors.

Once, you are ready with the solutions you will have to apply them in real-life situations in between two sessions of therapy. The final aim of this therapy is to apply the solutions you have learned through it in your real life which will eventually help you managing your problems and finding solutions for them even when the therapy is over.

Types of CBT

Depending on the nature of your mental illness there can be various forms of CBT given to you like: 

  • Cognitive Therapy for identifying and changing your thoughts, perception, behavior, and responses towards a certain situation and event.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) observes thoughts and behaviors and incorporates strategies like emotional regulation and mindfulness.
  • Multimodal therapy which believes that psychological issues should be treated on the basis of 7 various interconnected modalities like behavior, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition, drugs/biological considerations, and interpersonal factors.
  • Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) involves identifying various belief systems in detail, challenging them, and then recognizing the change it challenges caused in your life.

Advantages and Disadvantages of CBT

CBT may be successful with some kind of patients and unsuccessful with the other. The results may depend on how actively you participate in the whole process with your therapist and how actively do you do your homework.

Advantages of CBT

Let’s have a  look at the advantages of  CBT in brief:

  • It can be finished in a shorter period of time compared to other forms of therapy.
  • CBT is highly structured and can be provided easily to anyone in various formats like individual and group therapy sessions, self-help books, mental health chatbots, and sometimes also through AI-based therapists.
  • This form of therapy preaches some of the most practical solutions in therapy which can even be implemented to solve your problems after you finish therapy.
  • CBT is very helpful in cases when medication has been unsuccessful.
  • CBT can be given to anyone at any time
  •  in their lives. With AI therapists and mental health chatbots, patients can also access CBT remotely under supervision by their counselors or therapists in case of an emergency.

Disadvantages of CBT

Here are some of the disadvantages of CBT you should consider before opting for it: –

  • Only opt-in for it if you are ready to commit to the process with complete dedication. A therapist can guide you through but you will have to cooperate with them by doing your homework and doing your homework in between two sessions of therapy.
  • Attending therapy sessions can become extremely time – consuming especially if you have to manage many things at the same time.

How Can Virtual Therapists and Mental Health Chatbots Change The Way We Learn CBT?

Virtual Therapist, AI, and CBT with two Virtual Therapists, a robot and an app

Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing every sector of human life, the effects of which can also be seen in the mental health industry, which is already overburdened currently due to more patients and reduced mental health professionals to attend them. Especially for therapies like CBT which need constant feedback and follow-up, AI has enabled access to virtual therapists at any time, from any location.

Social robots with pre-programmed emotional intelligence have gained huge popularity among patients looking for treatment for mental illnesses through CBT. This virtual therapist technology is flexible, easy to access at any time and location, cost-effective, provides temporary relief, and the biggest thing about it is it does not have any pricey commitments like your time or money attached to it.

With our lives becoming extremely busy, it is very difficult to take out time for an appointment (both traveling and time with the therapist) with this technology around it becomes easy for mental health professionals to monitor the progress and issue direction to the patients which ensure that support is available even remotely for CBT. That is why this technology can truly change the way CBT.

Future of CBT

The time has now come that CBT would have to be accessed even remotely due to increased difficulties and multitasking lives that we live today. That is why having a virtual therapist companion by your side is extremely important. One of the best companions simplifying your CBT journey could be MARCo the ‘Mental health Assisting Robot Companion’ available both in physical form and as a mental health chatbot.

MARCo has pre-programmed features to support you during CBT like giving you reminders to accomplish your daily goals, providing companionship, and 24*7 talk support to make your CBT journey successful. So, if you are looking to make a lasting impact on your mental health, get your MARCo today and start your wellness journey. You can talk to MARCo for free for 7-days online or mobile, or get the physical robot for a lifetime of support.

Jacob Boyle serves as CEO and CTO of MARCo Technologies. As CEO, his primary functions include defining the company direction, managing contractors and employees, and spearheading outreach and customer discovery. As CTO, he has handled the development of MARCo, having designed and produced the existing MARCo units; coordinate with manufacturers; develop software for the online edition; and oversee continued R&D. He also served as the Technical Lead in the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps accelerator program on behalf of the company.

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