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Robot Psychologist: A New Era in Mental Health Services With MindMentor
Date:3/10/2008

EELDERWOLDE, The Netherlands, March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Two clinical psychologists associated with the Institute for Eclectic Psychology in Holland, Jaap Hollander and Jeffrey Wijnberg, have developed the first robot psychologist, named "MindMentor." MindMentor is an online computer program that helps people solve problems and achieve goals. It has the unique quality, as compared with other on line psychological help systems, of requiring no live human intervention and being completely automated. Said Hollander in an interview with a Dutch radio program: "What made this whole endeavor exciting, was that we suddenly saw a possibility to create an unlimited amount of psychological help."

Several Dutch media have reported on this new form of mental health care. Guido Castagna, reporting for daily newspaper Spits," noted after trying out MindMentor for himself: "For close to an hour MindMentor and his colleagues keep me very busy. I am shown colored pictures of abstract figures, I am asked to relive situations and I am cheerily debunked by ProvoBot, who claims my problem is unsolvable. In the beginning I still agree with him, but when he shows up again later in the session, I just laugh at him and point him out he virtual door. Then the amazement hits me: is this really going to work? The solution to my problem is in sight."

Some psychologists have responded positively to their robot colleague. Said David Van Nuys, Ph.D. (Emeritus Professor of Psychology Sonoma State University): "At the end of the hour-long session, I have to say my outlook and spirits were lifted considerably. It was smart, supportive, fun, and funny and helped me to focus in on the central issue. I find the blend of artificial intelligence, NLP, and other goal-directed therapeutic techniques effective."

How effective is the robot psychologist? Hollander, interviewed by a Dutch radio program, explained: "We did some research into the effectiveness of this system in 2006. We
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