The Idea Incubator/Motivational Interviewing Chatbot
Motivational interviewing is a counseling approach developed to help people resolve ambivalence. It helps clients reduce their dependence on substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and addictive drugs. It has elicited behavioral changes that have reduced problem gambling, assisted in weight management, and reduced depression. It is also effective in resolving vaccine hesitancy.
Although motivational interviewing is effective, it is currently practiced using a professional counselor who is well trained in the techniques. Costs, availability of counselors, privacy concerns, and the time required may reduce availability of the technique to many people who could otherwise benefit from it. Providing a lower-cost and more accessible solution could help overcome these problems. A well-designed chatbot could make the technique more widely available.
Although motivational interviewing techniques are not fully scripted, the technique is sufficiently structured to guide the design of algorithms that perform the role of a motivational interview counselor.
Ongoing research and development of natural language processing is resulting in several practical products, such as Emerson, and others. These can provide a familiar natural language interface to the chatbot.
Integrating natural language processing with motivational interviewing techniques can lead to development of a motivational interviewing chatbot. This can make the benefits of motivational interviewing available to a larger population of people who can be helped by the technique.
The system can improve quickly by incorporating feedback gathered from a large number of sessions.
Early work in this area is currently underway. Here are some examples:
- Computerized Cognitive Behavior Therapy delivers therapy via personal computer, internet, or interactive voice response system.
- Engaging Unmotivated Smokers to Move Toward Quitting: Design of Motivational Interviewing–Based Chatbot Through Iterative Interactions, Journal of Medical Internet Research, Fahad Almusharraf, Jonathan Rose, Peter Selby, November 3, 2020.
- Designing a Chatbot for a Brief Motivational Interview on Stress Management: Qualitative Case Study, Journal of Medical Internet Research, Corresponding Author: Bongwon Suh, April 16, 2019.