Aaina is a personalized AI counselor that provide reflection and support by providing an accessible space to start conversations about grief. When the user is ready, Aaina facilitates the connection to an in person therapist and allows them to control the amount of information shared. The therapist will use their custom dashboard to make meaningful connections with the data. At the end of the session, the therapist can send an action plan to the Aaina app so that Aaina can support the users journey between sessions.
Nearly 10% of Americans suffer from depression but less than half seek professional help. For those ready to look for help, Cultural differences, geographic constraints, and packed schedules can present additional barriers to starting treatment.
That's why we've created Aaina, an AI mobile counselor that offers a safe space for reflection and connects users with in-person support when you need it. The Aaina experience is designed to be a bridge to therapy not a substitute it helps you reflect while tracking key words and emotions during sessions to help users to better understand their journey.
CMU MDes Fall IxD Studio I
Carlie Guilfoile, Tithi Jasani, Jay Huh
Concept, Interaction Design, Prototyping
"Trust is about making yourself vulnerable, and being helped in return. People do this all the time with technology. We want to help people trust technology in the right ways".
– David Danks
David Danks is an AI and ethics expert and philosophy professor at CMU. He spoke to our class about the affordances of algorithms and human cognition. While humans are better and navigating ambiguity, artificial intelligence is better at finding patterns in large volumes of data. Through matching strengths of AI and human cognition we can provide accurate and compassionate mental health services.
Image from Atlas of Emotions homepage. Credit: Paul Ekman
We researched the connection between color, shape and emotion. Our findings served as a guide for visualization of our counselor.
In order to better understand the needs of therapists and their clients, we interviewed PhD Elizabeth Katz, a practicing Cognitive Behavioral Psychologist of 35 years. Elizabeth approached therapy as a communication process. She believes AI can handle parts of the intake process and help to match clients with the right therapist.
Our conversation with Elizabeth gave us a foundation for thinking about data tracking and transfer between the Aaina app, the user, and the therapist.
We compared current therapy apps to study how technology is being used to enhance mental health. We also wanted to explore the conversational abilities of chat bots.
Talkspace provides on demand therapy sessions through video chat or text within 24 hours. This is a great resource for anyone waiting for an appointment or having difficulty finding a provider.
Created by Stanford psychologists, Woebot
uses daily chat conversations, mood tracking, curated video, amd word video to help manage mental health.
Moodnotes is a mood tracker and journaling app which helps track and describe moods. Over time, users can find mood patterns and identify thinking traps.
Use visualization to express the emotions of the AI counselor, creating a connection between the AI counselor and the client.
Time constraints are a barrier to many who seek treatment. An AI counselor is able to accommodate irregular schedules through disconnected sessions.
Getting to know a new client takes up a great deal of time.
With our objectives in mind, we designed our AI therapist to provide comfort and calmness. Then we designed a service system to support both the client and the therapist to in person therapy sessions are more productive. We developed these qualities to keep in mind throughout our process
Professional, yet approachable.
A guide to constructive reflection.
An entry point to counseling, not a replacement.
Trustworthy and always respects boundaries.
Kind, Warm, Considerate
Works in mid-level IT
Our goal was to create representations for the AI counselor that are comforting and relatable. We researched the various ways people self soothe when they are upset. We found that many forms of comfort, such as the sound of rain or spending time by a lake, relate to water. Water is universally considered to be a source of comfort and healing. Since our AI counselor persona was culturally compentant and encouraged reflection, we named our her Aaina, which is Hindi for water.
We experimented various forms from Humanistic to Abstract and tested the concepts with our cohorts. We found that the Abstract forms were more successful.
To further support Aaina’s communication with the client, we created a visual vocabulary each state.
We mapped out how a client might use the Aaina app and how it would connect with the counselor.
Aaina suggests that Sarah speak to a therapist.
Aaina helps Sarah book an appointment.
Sarah decides which information to share with her therapist.
Before Sarah's appointment, her therapist learns about issues affecting Sarah's mental health,
At the end of Sarah's appointment, Sarah and her therapist create an action list together.
Throughout the week, Sarah reviews her action list, which she uses to track her progress.
Aaina is a bridge not a replacement for therapy. When the client is ready. Aaina facilitates connection with a therapist. based on previous sessions, she selects a few therapist that are good fit and presents them to the client. The client is then able to make a selection based on videos and make an appointment through the app.
After several sessions, Aaina suggests in person counseling.
User can access therapist
options within the app.
Aaina provides therapists
based on conversations.
Watch a video about your therapist.
Easy appointment scheduling
links with therapists calendar.
User chooses which data
to share with therapist.
We created a seamless and confidential check in process to give the client peace of mind so they can focus on their treatment.
The end result is a service system which offers a safe space for reflection and facilitates a connection with a therapist. This tool also helps the therapist to better serve their clients. Everyone deserves effective mental health services. We are proud to have designed a holistic support service system that benefits everyone.
© Corine Britto 2020
User Experience Designer
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