We wanted to build a tool that can benefit people who are feeling lonely because of social distancing. Sometimes people want to talk about how they are feeling but have no one around at the time. Even when seeking professional help as college students, we always find it hard to seek out therapy physically because of costs, waiting time, perceived stigma, and embarrassment after seeking out help. With the Covid-19 pandemic, all these barriers have been increased and we felt the need to have a bot that provides friendly therapy services.
What it does
Joy the Bot therapist chatbot is the friendly therapist that will listen to and guide users in a socially distant world. We aimed to provide users with a chatbot that is easy to chat with so we used emoji icons for users to choose how they feel. Through the user’s input in the chat, Joy suggests ways in which the user can alleviate the sad emotions they feel or celebrate the different achievements they have made. The user can chat with Joy about how they feel, get advice about ways of dealing with different emotions like playing music.
How I built it
In a team of three, we used that fuel to handle the flow of conversation between Joy and the user. In the planning phase of the project, we brainstormed on what features we would use in a chatbot on facebook messenger and how to best implement the chatbot. Since no one on the team had ever worked with building chatbots or integrating chatbots with facebook messenger, working with chatfuel was a great experience to explore the work behind the different chatbots we have used before. We learned how to work with chat fuel as we implemented the different features. Additionally, chat fuel's ability to set up AI rules was handy to enable Joy to keep the conversation flowing from a user’s input.
Challenges I ran into
We had never done a messaging bot before, so we spent some time learning how to do it. We spent the first days of our team meetings discussing the pros and cons of using different chatbot applications, and after a long discussion, we decided to use chatfuel because to implement cool features easily and for free. Since it was a messenger bot already, chatfuel also enabled us to concentrate on implementing the different features we wanted to implement rather than spending time to learn how to integrate other bot applications with Facebook messenger. We also read about how we can help someone feeling certain emotions by either talking them through it or advising them to seek professional help. Our other challenge was making the time, despite our class and work schedules, to make Joy the Bot therapist consistently.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
The greatest accomplishment is working on an impactful product that we and many of our friends need in a time where they are taking remote classes, facing so many personal and family challenges in socially distant communities. Working on Joy was the first time everyone on our team worked with chatbots and integrating the chatbot into Facebook. It was a great experience to explore how to implement different features. We are proud of how far Joy has come.
What I learned
We learned how to create a messaging bot that’s interactive by using chatfuel. We also learned how we can effectively brainstorm and flesh out our ideas so we can effectively work as a team. Another thing we learned was how to appropriately respond to people feeling strong emotions. In order to better understand ways therapists provide help, we have taken some time to study ways of dealing with different emotions. This gave us insight on how to make Joy more effective and also will inform the advancements we want to make on Joy before launching Joy to the public. Working on Joy: The Bot Therapist in a team was an opportunity to learn how to navigate the team dynamics as we collaborated on building different aspects of Joy in chatfuel.
What's next for Jot: The Bot Therapist
A lot! Although we implemented the basic flow of a conversation with Joy, we would like to add more interactivity where the user instead of choosing from the choices offered, they are able to type in text and Joy is able to interpret the text. Unlike many chatbots that feel more like quizzes, our aim is to enable Joy to feel more like talking to a friend. We will achieve this by using the Build AI feature more. Furthermore, we would also like to incorporate more options for the user to choose from after they share their emotions with Joy. Music is a great tool that many people use for strength in sad, trying, and happy moments, we plan to further implement the audio playing feature, where a user is able to play the music that will make them feel better in their messenger to chat with Joy.
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