Can AI therapists do better than the real thing?

My wife is a therapist, so the story Can AI therapists do better than the real thing? (oh hello, Betteridge’s law of headlines) piqued my interest, since we’ve had lots of conversations about this kind of thing.

The story starts off with some really interesting anecdotes about people forming “relationships” with their therapy chatbots, but it then turns towards some of the concerns and drawbacks, and how one client (not a fan of the use of “patient” in the article) ultimately dealt with the bot they created.

One example of the things that AI therapy bots can’t replace:

Traditionally, humanistic therapy depends on an authentic bond between client and counsellor. “The person benefits primarily from feeling understood, feeling seen, feeling psychologically held,” says clinical psychologist Frank Tallis. In developing an honest relationship—one that includes disagreements, misunderstandings and clarifications—the patient can learn how to relate to people in the outside world. “The beingness of the therapist and the beingness of the patient matter to each other,” Grosz says.