10 Ways to Tell If Your Therapist Is Really a Well-Disguised Bot
Technology has given us many useful things. Rideshare apps. Smart toilets. Streaming services. But there are some areas where we have to wonder if technology is more harmful than helpful. One such area: mental health treatment.
See, the world’s first AI therapist is here, and she’s making the rounds on the internet (and in people’s psyches). Her name is SARAH and she’s beautiful, blonde, and thin (of course). She also has some skills that differentiate her from mental health chatbots (which are meant to be used in conjunction with traditional talk therapy).
Sarah can “recall previous conversations, detect emotions by sound vibration and calm users down by providing solutions,” a press release claims. “Moreover, SARAH can advise its users on the ways they can improve their relationship with themselves as well as pointers on how they can finally rid themselves of their negative habits and replace them with positive ones.”
We’re hesitant to ditch our old-fashioned, flesh-and-blood therapist for SARAH, but this news got us thinking: how does one know for sure your therapist isn’t a bot? We’ve scouted out the top 10 signs to look out for, so you can get the therapy you need from the human being (or bot) you want.
Cover Photo: John M Lund Photography Inc (Getty Images)
They seem glitchy.
Why does that same expression keep crossing their face over and over and over again? If you feel the need to shut down your therapist and reboot, you might be seeing a bot.
They show no emotion.
Therapists are human (or at least, they're supposed to be). That means sometimes they feel your pain...and might even get a little misty. If your therapist looks dead behind the eyes, beware. You might have a bot on your hands.
Their speech is generic.
If the words coming out of your therapist's mouth could potentially be said to anyone (i.e. "How did that make you feel?" or "Let's explore that."), you're probably spilling your guts to a bot.
They never talk about themselves.
Therapists are supposed to be a blank slate, but once in a while, they tend to drop a tidbit about their life or past experience into the session. You can't divine much from these itty bitty breadcrumbs but if your therapist has revealed absolutely nothing about themselves to you, it might be because there is no self to speak of.
They never fall asleep in session.
Sad but true: therapy is often mind-numbingly boring. If your therapist nods off mid-session, it's totally normal and means they're fully human. If, however, they just keep nodding and nodding and nodding and nodding like this guy, be afraid. Be very afraid.
They say things that make you go "Hmm..."
...but in a "WTF?!" manner rather than a "Huh. That's insightful!" kind of way.
They never offer to hug you.
If you're bawling on a therapist's couch all session, the least they can do is offer a hug before you go. If they don't, it might be because an embrace would reveal that their body is actually made of metal. If your therapist has a beer belly, however, they're probably not a bot.
They never make bad jokes.
Sometimes, therapists will use humor to lighten the mood. Because they're mental health professionals and not comedians, these efforts to make you laugh often fall flat. If your therapist never even attempts to tickle your funny bone, it's probably because it isn't in their robot script.
Their dance moves are impeccable.
Therapists aren't known for their fancy footwork...or their penchant for spontaneously breaking into dance.
You always feel better after a session.
Therapy, if effective, doesn't make you feel better, especially at the beginning of treatment. Most of the time, therapy makes you feel worse because it highlights all the ways you've been failing and/or fucking yourself over. If you leave every therapy session feeling like you're awesome and evolving, something is very, very wrong. You've been seeing a bot, and it's kissing your ass, just like its maker designed it to.
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