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Smart Speaker Chatbot Development for Pychotherapy




EC: Edgerton Center

Faculty Supervisor:

Richard Fletcher

Faculty email:


Apply by:



Richard Fletcher: fletcher@media.mit.edu

Project Description

There is a need to create better resources to support mental health at home, separate from doctor appointments. AI-supported chatbots (Alexa, Google Home) now provide a useful opportunity to help teach and reinforce mental health skills and therapy at home. Generalized natural conversation is a very difficult AI problem, so instead our group is developing simpler specialized chatbot applications that support specific psychotherapy skills. For prototyping, we are using a Raspberry Pi and the Magpi development kit, with coding in Python. Advisors and beta testers on the project are licensed psychologists and psychiatrists, and Dr. Fletcher also has an academic appointment in the Psychiatry Department at UMass Medical School. At the moment, we are searching for students interested in working over IAP and/or Spring semester.


We are seeking students with an interest and skills in machine learning and/or NLP, who have experience with Python code development. Ideally, we are seeking students who also have at least some interest in psychology or mental health, and who are motivated to create new ways to revolutionize mental health assessment and treatment. Although our development environment uses the Raspberry Pi, students with significant server development experience can work directly with the commercial smart speakers and servers to develop the apps and server end points. Students can be form any academic major, but experience with python and some machine learning is required. At this time, we are interviewing students for IAP and/or Spring semester, with the option of continuing into summer if you are interested. We seek someone who is self-motivated and able to work independently, and attend virtual weekly group meetings to check on progress. Pay or credit is available. ELO eligible.