A GoodTherapy.org News Update
Whether they saw the machine for themselves or only heard about it through professional gossip or industry papers, many mental health care providers came into some sort of contact with “Eliza,” a robot created in the 1960’s that posed as a viable psychotherapist. The robot made use of the Rogerian method, accepting data typed-in by the patient and returning it after a bit of processing as a set of provocative questions. It might have been interesting, or simply funny, to some professionals, while to others it may have seemed an irreverent oversimplification of the science of psychology and modern therapy practices.
Those who weren’t avid Eliza fans might cringe at the idea of Eliza 2.0, but not to worry. The re-vamped model has been produced by a team at the New York City College of Technology, of the City University of New York, not for its potential to replace a trained human therapist, but as a piece of entertainment incorporating current trends in technology. Adventuresome reporter Steve Kolowich of the Chronicle of Higher Education took a seat with Eliza to discover whether the machine was good for an insight — or just good for a laugh. Excerpted from his transcript of the conversation:
“Eliza R.: What is the first thing that comes to your mind in this session?
Me: What will I learn about you?
Eliza R.: Perhaps in your fantasies we learn about each other.
Me: Excuse me?
Eliza R.: I’m not sure I understand you fully.
Me: That makes two of us.
Eliza R.: Please go on with whatever it is you are inadequately expressing.
Me: Well … I am writing an article about you, so I want to learn what you are all about.
Eliza R.: Is it because you are writing an article about me that you came to me?
Eliza R.: You seem to be quite positively positive.
Me: I suppose I do.
Eliza R.: Really, how is that possible?
Me: I cannot say. “
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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