Imagine a teenager who does not want to talk with his parents about an issue turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to seek help and understanding. I was just reading about students using chatGBT in place of a therapist. A recent example of this is the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) support chatbot, which recommended weight loss tips to people struggling with eating disorders. Professionals warn this bot could increase harmful behaviors. Without the emotional intelligence, ethical understanding, and judgment of a human therapist, chatbots may unintentionally promote harmful practices.
Although AI algorithms can analyze large amounts of data and provide insights based on patterns and trends, they lack real, human emotional intelligence. Understanding complex emotional states, like grief or trauma, requires interaction with a mental health professional. Chatbots like ChatGPT will struggle to grasp the intricacies of these emotions, potentially leading to inaccurate, ineffective, and even harmful interventions.
Adaptability to Individual Needs
AI therapy often follows standardized protocols and algorithms, which might not suit everyone’s circumstances, each individual is different and individual approaches are often required. An AI cannot be trained in evidence-based treatment modalities yet. AI therapy may struggle to adapt to the specific needs, preferences, cultural backgrounds, or individuality of users. Much of therapy is being aware of the clients emotional state, showing empathy and reading nonverbal cues.
Privacy and data security are major concerns, as personal and sensitive information is shared and stored digitally. There is a risk of data hacking or unauthorized access to personal data, potentially compromising individuals’ privacy and mental well-being. Additionally, using AI algorithms to make clinical decisions or diagnose mental health conditions without human intervention presents a difficult ethical issue.
In times of distress or crisis, support from a knowledgeable, experienced professional is critical. AI therapy may not be equipped to handle emergency situations effectively, and the absence of a human therapist can be a significant drawback during such times. An AI cannot yet provide timely intervention and emergency contacts in the same way a human can.
I am sure there will be room in the therapists toolbelt in the future for AI aids during therapy but a trained therapist will still be central to our Center. To read more about our approach to therapy please click on the link below: