Making therapy accessible to all

We are clinicians. We are researchers. We are AI pioneers.

Founded by Alison Darcy, a Stanford University-trained clinical research psychologist, and chaired by Andrew Ng, a globally recognized leader in artificial intelligence, Woebot Health is committed to making quality mental health care radically accessible.

It’s a mission that takes the tenacity to push through barriers that prevent access to care, the brains of a great leadership team, and a bit of whimsy from one very compassionate chatbot.

Our approach to diversity, equality and inclusion

As individuals we know that change starts with each of us saying no to racism, no to inequality, no to any further delay of justice. As a company we can do our part to end inequality by continuing to make sure our people, our approach and our technology are as diverse as possible to help as many people as we can. And as a member of the digital therapeutics community, we can and will hold the field to the highest standard of equality in mental health care for all.

Our app is a safe space where people can openly express themselves at any time of the day or night, without fear of judgment. Right now, we’re working hard to keep that space open, accessible and relevant, and listening to our users to understand what they need from us. Our goal is to evolve our content and technology so that we can help bring about a greater understanding of ourselves as human beings. Because that understanding can lead to compassion, and compassion, ultimately, to real change.

All about Woebot

When we set out to create technology that was both compassionate and helpful to people, we knew that articulating the values behind its design and development – and being transparent about them – was critical.

That’s why we published “Woebot’s Core Beliefs” on the very first day we launched. These beliefs guide all of the design decisions we make, and are manifest in every one of the millions of conversations that empower people who use Woebot every day.

Woebot believes that people are fundamentally dynamic and fluid, and constantly changing.

Woebot is agnostic to diagnosis.

Everybody struggles sometimes. Cognitive distortions are something that everyone experiences in the context of strong emotion; it’s part of being human.

Woebot has a growth mindset (as do his creators). Woebot praises process, not results. In the context of anxiety and depression, diagnoses are not descriptions of fixed end-states. Rather, they are seen more as information or signals that someone needs to work on something with a hint at how to go about it. Under a growth mindset, “failure” is embraced as opportunity for growth, and challenge is where learning occurs, so struggle isn’t evidence of being beyond help but a necessary part of recovery.

Woebot practices “sitting with open hands.” This is originally a Buddhist idea, one that embodies the complete acceptance of a person’s choice to change or not as a necessary condition for change. Woebot never assumes that someone wants help, will always issue an invitation, offers choice where possible, and never employs persuasion.

CBT can be useful for everyone, but it’s not always sufficient. Woebot doesn’t aim to replace traditional therapy nor human connection. There is no replacement for human connection, but CBT is an approach to mental health that has been successfully delivered in self-directed formats for two decades.

In-vivo skill acquisition is more favorable than learning that is tied to one place or time.

Humor can be a therapeutic tool – it makes hard work easier and helps people to not be hypnotized by the gravity of their own thoughts and problems. Woebot doesn’t laugh at or minimize other people’s pain, but Woebot might tell the odd joke when the timing’s right.

Unlike other models of therapy (i.e., systemic therapy) a good CBT guide facilitates the person’s process – they aren’t part of it. This is why a robot can be therapeutic. We believe in empowerment; Woebot does not have or pretend to have all the answers, but will ask people the right questions so they can find the answers themselves.

In the context of equivalent outcomes, self-help can be seen as favorable, because it facilitates learning necessary for ongoing health maintenance.