Experiential training, where mental health professionals practice their learned skills, remains the most costly component of therapeutic training. We introduce Pin-MI, a video-call-based tool that supports experiential learning of counseling skills used in motivational interviewing (MI) through interactive role-play as client and counselor. In Pin-MI, counselors annotate, or "pin" the important moments in their role-play sessions in real-time. The pins are then used post-session to facilitate a reflective learning process, in which both client and counselor can provide feedback about what went well or poorly during each pinned moment. We discuss the design of Pin-MI and a qualitative evaluation with a set of healthcare professionals learning MI. Our evaluation suggests that Pin-MI helped users develop empathy, be more aware of their skill usage, guaranteed immediate and targeted feedback, and helped users correct misconceptions about their performance. We discuss implications for the design of experiential training tools for learning counseling skills.
Bipolar disorder (BD) is a serious mental illness that requires life-long management. Manic and depressive mood episodes in BD are characterized by idiosyncratic behavioral changes. Identifying these early-warning signs is critical for effective illness management. However, there are unique design constraints for technologies focusing on preemptive assessment and intervention in BD given the need for data-intensive monitoring and balancing user agency. In this paper, we aim to establish acceptance, needs, and concerns regarding a preemptive assessment and intervention system to support longitudinal BD management. We interviewed 10 individuals living with BD. To ground the findings in lived experiences, we used a hypothetical assessment and intervention system focusing on online behaviors. Based on the data, we have identified requirements for effective behavioral monitoring across illness episodes. We have also established design recommendations to support dynamic, longitudinal interventions that can address the evolving user needs for life-long BD management.
Modern stress management techniques have been shown to be effective, particularly when applied systematically and with the supervision of an instructor. However, online workers usually lack sufficient support from therapists and learning resources to self-manage their stress. To better assist these users, we implemented a browser-based application, Home Sweet Office (HSO), to administer a set of stress micro-interventions which mimic existing therapeutic techniques, including somatic, positive psychology, meta cognitive, and cognitive behavioral categories. In a four-week field study, we compared random and machine-recommended interventions to interventions that were self-proposed by participants in order to investigate effective content and recommendation methods. Our primary findings suggest that both machine-recommended and self-proposed interventions had significantly higher momentary efficacy than random selection, whereas machine-recommended interventions offer more activity diversity compared to self-proposed interventions. We conclude with reflections on these results, discuss features and mechanisms which might improve efficacy, and suggest areas for future work.
Digital interventions are often used to support people with mental health conditions, but low engagement frequently reduces their effectiveness. We investigate the use of a Physical Artefact for Well-being Support (PAWS) to improve engagement and effectiveness of an audio-only guided well-being intervention. Through our handheld shape-changing biofeedback-based PAWS, users can synchronously feel their breath via kinaesthetic haptic feedback. By evaluating our device in a randomised-controlled experimental paradigm (N=58), we demonstrate significant reductions in physiological and subjective (self-reported) anxiety compared to an audio-only control. Our findings conclude that synchronous interactions with one‘s own physiological data via the PAWS, improves engagement and effectiveness of an intervention.
Virtual Reality (VR) allows us to replace our visible body with a virtual self-representation (avatar) and to explore its effects on our body perception. While the feeling of owning and controlling a virtual body is widely researched, how VR affects the awareness of internal body signals (body awareness) remains open. Forty participants performed moving meditation tasks in reality and VR, either facing their mirror image or not. Both the virtual environment and avatars photorealistically matched their real counterparts. We found a negative effect of VR on body awareness, mediated by feeling embodied in and changed by the avatar. Further, we revealed a negative effect of a mirror on body awareness. Our results indicate that assessing body awareness should be essential in evaluating VR designs and avatar embodiment aiming at mental health, as even a scenario as close to reality as possible can distract users from their internal body signals.
Without a nuanced understanding of users’ perspectives and contexts, text messaging tools for supporting psychological wellbeing risk delivering interventions that are mismatched to users' dynamic needs. We investigated the contextual factors that influence young adults' day-to-day experiences when interacting with such tools. Through interviews and focus group discussions with 36 participants, we identified that people's daily schedules and affective states were dominant factors that shape their messaging preferences. We developed two messaging dialogues centered around these factors, which we deployed to 42 participants to test and extend our initial understanding of users' needs. Across both studies, participants provided diverse opinions of how they could be best supported by messages, particularly around when to engage users in more passive versus active ways. They also proposed ways of adjusting message length and content during periods of low mood. Our findings provide design implications and opportunities for context-aware mental health management systems.