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AI-Integrated Emotional Wellness and Chatbots


by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness


Chatbots, a term derived from chatter and robots, have been around for decades, dating back to “Eliza.” As a psychologist, I remember thinking, "What if they made Eliza good?"


Well, they did. The question now is: "What if chatbots were not just good but excellent—responsible, accessible, ethical, and even human-like?”


Users frequently turn to chatbots to seek emotional support and guidance. While chatbots have the potential to provide evidence-based coping strategies, the computer-generated content lacks the qualities of authentic face-to-face interpersonal communication—including empathy, warmth, genuineness, compassion, trust, intimacy, non-verbal cues, shared experience, history, confidentiality, human connectivity, and more.


When chatbot responses fail to capture an individual’s emotional state, users may feel unheard, disconnected, and alone, compromising their emotional well-being (Agrawal et al., 2020).


Fortunately, AI-Integrated Emotional Wellness (AIEW), the broad interface of the cognitive abilities of artificial intelligence and the complexity of human emotions, is addressing this issue by promoting emotional wellness consultants with the AI community.


I encourage experts in emotional wellness, by virtue of their knowledge, skill, experience, training, and education, to collaborate with AI professionals to enhance chatbots' understanding of human emotions. Utilizing a host of mechanisms, including Natural Language Processing, Emotion Recognition Models, and Machine Learning, AIEW can empower chatbots to foster emotional wellness.


AIEW additionally provides innovative strategies to make chatbot communication more attuned to the complexity of human emotion.


These unique strategies empower chatbots to generate responses that emulate mental health professionals. Please refer to my recent article entitled An Innovative AI-Integrated Emotional Wellness Strategy which elucidates one such strategy.


Numerous factors, such as accessibility, promptness of response, and personalization, support the potential of chatbots to promote emotional wellness. However, there are many areas in which AIEW empowers AI professionals to improve the efficacy and responsibility of chatbots, including interfacing with human emotions, conveying empathy and compassion, and ethical considerations.


Chatbots offer enormous potential for providing users with emotional support and guidance. By collaborating with experts in emotional wellness, consulting with the AI community, and implementing innovative AIEW strategies, chatbots can serve as a powerful adjunct to professional mental health care.



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