Among the many fears about AI taking over people’s jobs, you wouldn’t have thought psychologists and therapists would be too worried. But an increasing number of AI-based apps promise to help alleviate mental health troubles and even act as virtual therapists.
Important: These apps are not replacements for mental health professionals, and if you are in distress, it’s best to seek help. These apps offer temporary or base-level methods to tackle negative thoughts and get you through a bad mood.
1. Thought Coach (Web): Tackle Cognitive Distortions and Rephrase Your Thoughts
Cognitive distortions are among the most common psychological issues that many of us have to tackle regularly. These are irrational, exaggerated, or unhelpful thought patterns that cloud our view of situations. But AI is surprisingly good at identifying these cognitive distortions, as we have seen while exploring how to overcome stress with ChatGPT.
Thought Coach uses this ability to help you reframe and rephrase your thoughts. The algorithm is trained on common cognitive distortions, such as overgeneralization, all-or-nothing thinking, emotional reasoning, jumping to conclusions, mind reading, etc. When you’re ready to start, type in all the details about the event that led to your negative emotions and thoughts. Then, in the next box, add all the negative thoughts you’re experiencing about it.
After processing the data, Thought Coach will show you an analysis of the cognitive distortions it has observed in your statements. It highlights sentences in your initial input and gives examples of what was reality and what you took away from it. It’s simple and effective when you want to search the internet for advice.
2. SommerAI (Web): ChatGPT Therapist Trained on CBT and SFBT
Sommer is a ChatGPT-based app that uses two evidence-backed and methodical types of mental health treatment, CBT and SFBT. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on identifying and overcoming harmful thought patterns by analyzing past events. Solution-focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented therapeutic process where instead of identifying causes for the current problem, the objective is to find solutions in actionable and practical ways. Sommer uses NASA’s psychological research on these two methods to create a trained ChatGPT-like therapist.
After logging in with your Google account, you’ll have to pick which type of therapy you want to try. Then, start a new chat and answer the questions that SommerAI asks. The more detailed and communicative you are, the better the bot responds. Your chats are saved in your account, so when you revisit it later, you can choose to start a new chat for a new topic or revisit that topic and take the conversation further; in the latter, the AI should perform better as it has more data from the past chat.
Apart from these two main chat therapy bots, SommerAI also offers Healthy Nuggets. These small actions, habits, or exercises will boost your mental health.
3. Mindsum Bot (Web): Ask Questions and Get Information About Mental Health
Mindsum is a UK-based non-profit organization aimed at distributing mental health information and tools through technology. It has recently created an AI chatbot called Mindsum Bot, which can give anyone the correct information about any mental health questions and guide them in seeking professional help.
Mindsum says the bot was built on GPT technology and layered with their own AI models. It is trained on three evidence-based clinically-tested therapeutic practices: CBT, IPT, and DBT. Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a short-term depression treatment focusing on social interactions. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a modified type of CBT that teaches how to regulate emotions, develop coping mechanisms, and be more mindful.
This training and backing of an established mental health organization makes Mindsum Bot much more reliable than other therapy chatbots. It’s not restricted to UK users, as anyone worldwide can use it. The makers recommend using it as a place to vent your thoughts when you don’t have someone to listen to them, and Mindsum Bot will even help you identify the right time to seek professional advice if needed.
4. JungGPT (Web): Empathetic Therapist ChatBot for Emotional Understanding
Of all the therapist chatbots we tested for this article, JungGPT felt the most natural. It uses casual language and reframes what you’ve written while offering empathy and asking a question that could take you to the next step in resolving the situation. The whole process makes it feel like you’re talking to a friend.
JungGPT has been trained on several texts and a language model that facilitates emotional understanding. The makers at Ventura UX are quick to point this out. “While JungGPT does have a ‘form’ of empathy, it does not feel empathy itself, but understands it based on its training to do so and through analyzing text in different context.”
When we signed up and tested JungGPT, it was as simple as using any ChatGPT-like AI chatbot. The site notes that the free plan has limited messaging, but we didn’t hit those restrictions in our usage. The premium plan costs $7 per month for unlimited messaging.
5. Lotus (Web): Therapist ChatBot With Journal and Goal-Tracker
Lotus is one of the quickest therapist chatbot apps you can use. Head to the web app, and you’re ready to start chatting. The makers say, “Unlike other language models, Lotus has been meticulously trained on millions of user conversations to enhance its effectiveness and provide tailored solutions for individuals seeking support.”
While you don’t need to register for an account to use Lotus, it’s best that you do. With that account, you get a built-in journal and goals tracker. When you’re conversing with the chatbot, Lotus will suggest concrete steps to tackle the issues you are having. It will then prompt you to add these as small goals or to add the complete response to your journal.
This way, you can revisit Lotus and quickly go through the main parts of the previous conversation. It also serves as a quick reminder of your goals, and Lotus will use those in any follow-up conversations you have.
AI Helps But Isn’t a Replacement for Therapy
While we stated this at the start of this article, it’s worth reiterating that these AI chatbots cannot substitute for a qualified professional mental health counselor. All the above apps explicitly state that and encourage you to seek help if you’re dealing with severe mental health problems. These ChatGPT apps are better suited for instant, short-term, or minor issues and resolutions.