University of Southern California

Affective Computing - Emotion Focused Therapy Chatbot


An Emotion Focused Therapy Chatbot: A Proof of Concept Study

University of Southern California, May 2020



Research has shown that a chatbot can be an effective tool for mental health interventions, yet few chatbots were designed under the guidance of a valid theoretical framework, especially under the emotion-focused theoretical framework that is likely to touch on the core issues of many mental health problems.

This proof-of-concept feasibility study tests the usability and effectiveness of an EFT-based chatbot. The chatbot was able to understand emotional situations and provide rapport, bring emotions into awareness, help differentiate primary and secondary emotions and transform maladaptive emotions into adaptive ones. Users rated a high accuracy for emotions recognized by the chatbot. Users' emotions improved significantly after going through the emotion transformation steps and perceived the emotion transformation strategies as effective.