The “Human” Touch in Therapy: Will ChatGPT Replace Therapists?

Imagine yourself in a scenario where you're going through a difficult time at work with stringent deadlines or experiencing relationship problems, and you feel the need to talk to a mental health professional. Here the question arises, can Artificial Intelligence (AI) be the right solution in such situations? In this blog, we will explore the answer to this question with insights from expert therapists.

The Artificial Intelligence Revolution

Forbes reckons that the AI revolution is at pace, and the emergence of ChatGPT has caused a stir. Suddenly, we have people questioning the longevity of their careers and using this advanced tool for tasks such as writing stories, creating strategies, and so much more. ChatGPT is pioneering in different ways, particularly its ability to emulate human responses effectively. It can provide follow-up questions, correct mistakes, answer open-ended questions, and many other features. The responses generated by ChatGPT feel pretty human too. For instance, if you ask it a question like "I am feeling low right now”, it may respond with: “I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling down. Would you like to talk about what's been causing you to feel this way? Remember that it's okay to not be okay, and taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally, is important. If you need any support or resources, please let me know.” As you further describe your emotions, the AI model can generate responses according to the context of your answer. This experience is magical and futuristic, and this is just one of the many well-polished AI chats models out there. It may not be human, but it provides the exact information you require without you having to scroll through online pages.

Can AI Provide Mental Health Support?

A human is a creation of multiple factors such as upbringing, social surroundings, environment, life experiences, and so much more. Each individual has a unique way of interpreting things and experiencing emotions; no two individuals perceive things similarly. Although this makes each person a unique constellation of traits, it also means they will experience mental health concerns differently. For example, two people may have depression, but their symptoms could be completely different. One may experience insomnia, while the other may sleep excessively. You might also experience the symptoms and not be able to describe them. While these are just two edge cases, there are countless other situations in which a therapist can help you. A professional therapist can discern the support you need from their experience. They can provide real human insight into what you are going through and offer compassion.

The Human Connection in Therapy

The “human” aspect might seem a bit arbitrary, and that is because it is. As social species, we require social connection with others to function effectively and thrive. Research has demonstrated that a lack of human connection can lead to conditions, i.e., depression and dementia. Therapy plays a vital role in treatment primarily because it is the need for this human connection. Having a conversation with a friend can alleviate stress and manage difficult emotions, but talking to a professional therapist offers an entirely different experience. A therapist has the experience to talk you through your concerns in an adaptive way while establishing a secure environment for you to explore and process your thoughts and feelings. They can help you dig up experiences, process undiscovered emotions, etc.

Can AI Assist in Mental Healthcare?

Technology can address issues related to accessibility and convenience at its most basic level. With digital platforms, people can get support from anywhere in the world. Technology can also automate specific processes and protocols, which can lead to more efficient and timely delivery of high-quality healthcare. Additionally, technology is a valuable support tool in the form of digitized content and tools individuals can use. This is where AI can play a crucial role in improving the care available to individuals. AI has the potential to assist clinicians in diagnosing conditions more quickly and accurately, as well as analyzing client data to help predict relapses and other high-risk situations. However, AI in clinical settings is most effective when used alongside expert human support to ensure safe, personalized, and effective care.

Benefits of AI in the Therapy Context

Even if we’re to discount ChatGPT for the moment, there are still significant advancements in the intersection of mental health and AI. Human therapists are just that—human. They can be biased, even subconsciously. A therapist could be racist or homophobic. In comparison, an AI therapist eliminates the risk of someone talking to a therapist who might not know who may not fully understand them. People might feel worried that their therapist will judge them or reveal private information. They might not be ready to talk to a real person about sensitive issues, especially if they've had bad experiences with therapy before. Also, sometimes therapists can get sick or have personal issues that require them to cancel or reschedule appointments. They can also feel exhausted or not be fully present during a session. On the other hand, an AI therapist doesn't have these limitations.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that therapists will still be around, even though AI is becoming more advanced. Talking to a real human therapist is essential because it helps people feel more connected and cared for. However, AI can still be helpful in mental health support as a tool to use when a person doesn't have access to a therapist. It has many benefits for the good of human beings and will be used more actively in the future, even for mental health. If you need help with any concerns, don't hesitate to contact OmniHelp therapists. They can help you find a safe space to talk about your problems.