Could a new phone replace your therapist?

I can’t go a day without my phone. On the rare occasions that I’ve managed to leave it behind, I feel like I might well as be missing an arm or a leg. But now, keeping your phone on you can be important for reasons beyond calling and texting.

Researchers at the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University are working on creating a smart phone that can be used to treat depression.  The phone, called Mobilyze!, will act like a portable and compact therapist that monitors your activities, tracks your location, and gauges your mood.

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It will also screen your normal pattern of calling, sending emails, and texting, so that it can tell if you stop communicating with others –which is a common symptom of depression. It will even ask you to call a friend if you haven’t done so in a long period of time. Basically, carrying the phone in your purse will be kind of like carrying a mini and transportable version of your shrink…or your mom.

Sounds handy right? Oh yeah, and SCARY! As amazing as it is that we now have technology that can create something like this, this actually genuinely terrifies me. You’re telling me that if I don’t get enough phone calls and texts for a day or two, my PHONE is going to judge me? How would that help me if I was suffering from depression? I mean, aren’t people already obsessed with the amount of Facebook posts they’re getting?

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Not to mention, that while the phone isn’t supposed to replace in-person counseling, I feel it would just create the perfect excuse to skip your weekly sessions with your therapist., especially for teens. As in, “Don’t worry parents, I have my phone on me, so I’m OK!”

Call me old-fashioned, but I really believe that technology can only be useful to a certain extent. If it’s completely replacing real-life, human interaction (which ironically is the very thing this phone is trying to encourage), then it’s a problem. For now, I’ll stick to my apparently ancient and outdated BlackBerry.

Image via kiwinky/flickr