- Robots have a wide range of potential applications in mental healthcare.
Psychologists must collaborate with robotics to shape the direction of this work.
Robots serve as a clinical tool and assistants in a wide range of settings.
- In spite of the nascent nature of this work, the potential applications, particular in relation to addressing unmet service needs, is emerging.
- Robots can help to fill niches that are currently vacant (e.g. in rural areas where few mental health providers are available) and can assist human providers in their ongoing effort to deliver services (e.g. by serving as helpful tools within treatment sessions with a provider).
- Robots can take on therapeutic roles (e.g. naïve peer) that may even be counterproductive for a clinician to adopt in treatment.
- Robots serve as a complement to many other models of delivery or can be of assistance to patients by providing in-home resources and services.
- It’s critical to engage the mental healthcare community in this work to ensure that it’s serving our fields most urgent clinical needs.
- An example of a traditional assistive robot is the MIT-Manus arm system, which helps stroke victims by physically guiding them through exercises.
- The robot interacts physically (but not socially) with the user by moving the user’s body through the appropriate motions.
- Socially intelligent robots are capable of socially engaging with users but may not be designed to specifically help people.
- Ex. Leonardo is an extraordinary sophisticated socially intelligent robot that is capable of expressing a wide range of facial and body expressions, visually tracking the face of human users, responding to physical touch, and engaging in social learning.
- Leonardo isn’t designed to specifically aid people, and there for isn’t considered a SAR.
Rabbitt, S. M., Kazdin, A. E., & Scassellati, B. (2015). Integrating socially assistive robotics into mental healthcare interventions: Applications and recommendations for expanded use. Clinical Psychology Review, 35, 35–46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2014.07.001