How good is your therapist? This machine will tell you | 7/20/2018 | Staff
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For people struggling to overcome addiction, good therapy can be hugely beneficial. But bad therapy is worse than no therapy at all.

The challenge is being able to tell the difference. Practicing counselors rarely receive feedback, so it's difficult for them to know if they are providing optimal treatment to their patients.

Northeastern - Professor - Tad - Hirsch - System

Northeastern professor Tad Hirsch is working to change that. He has developed a system that records counseling sessions and rates them, generating a report card for therapists.

The technology is already in use at a university training clinic and a network of opioid addiction treatment facilities. Once scaled up, the system could create a new standard of care for therapy and lead to improved mental health for patients all over the world.

Hirsch - Collaborators - Sessions - Sessions - Statements

Here's how it works: Hirsch and his collaborators started by recording 356 counseling sessions. From those sessions, they pulled out 300,000 statements and compiled them into a database. Then a team of psychology experts combed through the statements and coded them.

Coding is an analytical process in which data are categorized. In this case, the experts coded statements based on how closely they aligned with techniques used in motivational interviewing, a type of psychotherapy.

Researchers - Dataset - Machine - Model - Form

Next, researchers used the coded dataset to train a machine learning model. This is a form of artificial intelligence. Once the model is trained, the result is a system that can record a counseling session, create a transcript of what was said, analyze the transcript, grade the session, and provide specific feedback to clinicians.

In other words, a computer is evaluating therapists and telling them how they can improve.


How do therapists react to being assessed by...
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