Primary Care Seminar – Robot vs Human

I’ll be giving a seminar this week about mental health technologies, and particularly the need to focus on user-led design and exploring what computerised therapies offer that is different to traditional face-to-face therapies. I’ll also be talking about the possible role of technology in helping to personalise mental health treatments to individuals. Finally, I’ll be using the opportunity to cram in lots of pictures of robots. Robots are cool.

Robot vs Human: Pitfalls and Potential for Therapy delivered by Technology

Sarah Knowles, Primary care group, University of Manchester

Date: 22nd May

Time: 2-3pm

Location: Seminar Room 2, 5th Flr Williamson Building, University of Manchester


The first generation of mental health technologies has focused on replicating typical therapeutic contexts using computer platforms, driven primarily by the need to increase access to therapy. Critics (and some early users) have argued that such computerised therapies miss out the person, whether this is the absence of a human therapist or the lack of personalisation to individual patients.

Contrary to this, I will argue that technologies offer several unique ways to personalise mental health treatments, but that exploiting this potential will require that systems complement rather than emulate traditional therapies.

I will illustrate with interview data on patient experience of computerised CBT taken from the REEACT Trial, and discuss future work to be undertaken in the School that will explore innovative ways of delivering therapy through technology. I will also discuss the potential of computerised platforms to tailor treatments to patients through assessment or delivery, and the potential to individualise therapeutic content to users.

All the upcoming Primary Care seminars are listed here.

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