Senior Health Three AI Therapy Apps for Seniors 2/14/2023 | By Seniors Guide Staff Can talking to a robot help you? While the benefits of mental health therapy have gained wider acceptance, the idea of opening up to a stranger doesn’t appeal to everyone, including seniors, who may value stoicism and privacy. Nor does everyone have the budget or insurance coverage for therapy sessions. A new technology may help address both of these problems – AI therapy apps. Through apps designed to provide guided therapy, artificial intelligence (AI) can be useful to help seniors with mental health issues. They can provide a safe and secure environment for seniors to share their feelings and experiences without fear of judgment or stigma. AI therapy apps can also provide advice and guidance tailored to the individual’s needs, helping them to better manage their mental health. What are AI therapy apps? These smartphone and tablet-based applications are powered by artificial intelligence, like robotic voices. Using natural language processing, they provide written prompts and responses. As robot-like applications, they’re ready whenever you need – no appointments or waiting rooms, no worries if you want to chat at 2 o’clock in the morning. This “robot” therapy is based on cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on how our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected. It is based on the idea that our thoughts influence our emotions and behaviors, and by modifying our thoughts we can change how we feel and act. CBT has been used to treat a variety of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, substance abuse, and more. It is an evidence-based therapy that has been proven to be effective in helping people manage their mental health issues. When you first open an AI therapy app, for example, the app may ask how you’re doing – as a friend’s text message might. The text app may allow for open-ended responses or provide a list of options: happy, sad, worried, stressed, etc. Based on your answer, the robotic text offers suggestions, like practicing gratitude or mindfulness, setting a goal, or making plans you can look forward to. AI therapy can be especially beneficial for seniors who may not have access to traditional forms of therapy due to physical or financial limitations. AI-based therapies are also more affordable than traditional therapies, making them accessible to a wider range of people. With AI-based therapies, seniors can get the help they need without having to leave their homes or spend large amounts of money on treatment. They can be used by any senior who has access to a smartphone or tablet, whether they live in a community or an individual home. AI-based therapies have been shown to be effective in treating anxiety and some other mental health issues. Some issues still call for professional assistance, but AI therapy can often help. The idea is not to replace human therapists with bots, says Dr. Alison Darcy, a psychologist and the founder and president of Woebot, an AI therapy app. Instead, it’s important to have both. “It’s like saying if every time you’re hungry, you must go to a Michelin star restaurant, when actually a sandwich is going to be OK,” she said. “Woebot is a sandwich. A very good sandwich.” Related: Prioritizing mental health in retirement Three AI therapy apps These three apps are available for Apple and Android devices. Basic services are free. Wysa Wysa is “Mental health that meets people where they are,” proclaims the company’s home page. “Completely anonymous. No stigma. No limits.” Wysa uses a combination of AI and human-assisted therapy to provide users with personalized support and guidance. Wysa’s AI technology is designed to understand the user’s emotions, thoughts, and feelings in order to provide tailored advice and support. The app also offers a range of activities such as meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling to help users manage their mental health. It’s free, with paid upgrades for additional features, including remote chats with a therapist. Woebot Woebot uses a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and conversational AI to help people manage their mental health. The app is designed to be used on a daily basis, providing users with personalized advice and guidance on how to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Woebot also offers educational resources such as articles and videos about mental health topics. With a user-friendly interface and personalized approach, Woebot has become a popular choice for those seeking mental health support. RiseUp: Calm & Relax Your Mind RiseUp provides CBT therapy techniques as well as mindfulness and meditation focus to provide users with personalized support and guidance. It offers advice on how to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. RiseUp is designed to be used in conjunction with traditional therapies or as a standalone tool for self-care. It’s important to understand the limitations of AI therapy. While it can be useful as a supplement to a human therapist or as a first step, it may not be the final answer. If you find your needs greater than an AI bot can address, consider working directly with a therapist or reaching out to friends and medical providers. AI seems like sci-fi, and using it may seem odd. But seeing all of the other ways that the science fiction books and movies of our youth have come true, artificial intelligence is simply one of those! 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