Smart-Speakers for PTSD Couple's Therapy

A user-centered design research


Nasim Motalebi

9/13/20191 min read

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic and persistent mental health disorder caused by traumatic events including combat experiences, serious accidents, and physical or sexual assaults. Approximately 8 million adults in the US suffer from PTSD in any given year and 7–8% of the US population will have PTSD at some point in their lives. This results in serious public health issues and societal burdens.

In 2012 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spent $3 billion on PTSD care. There are effective interventions that can help manage PTSD symptoms. For example, family interventions like Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy (CBCT) for PTSD have been shown to significantly decrease PTSD symptom severity. However, effective integration of these interventions poses some serious logistical challenges. Specifically, they are often resource-intensive and require specialized training, multiple visits to health centers, and long clinical sessions. Collectively, these issues result in significant barriers to receiving and continuing treatments.I

In this project, we addressed these issues. Our key aim is to scale up a clinically validated family intervention for PTSD so that it can be effectively delivered to patients whenever and wherever they need it. Towards this, we aim to develop smart-home conversational agents using Amazon Alexa for the delivery of CBCT treatment steps. These devices specifically enable us to leverage the shared and collaborative aspects of family and home environments for interactive, personalized, and timely delivery of CBCT steps.