Spring is a joint research with Creative Computing Group and Clinical Psychology Lab from Sogang University sponsored by National Research Foundation of Korea from September 2016 to August 2017. In this project, we developed a crowdsourcing-based psychotherapy application, in which users record their emotional state and write their stories. Its beta version for user test was published recently in August 2017, and now it is going through consistent bug-tests and design updates based on the usability test results for its official launching in next spring.
As briefly mentioned, in this application, general user group can reveal their states of distress with their own stories. Then, another user group composed of psychotherapy trainees write comments and give advices with evidence-based support .
The design process follows the Double Diamond model. My responsibility is more focused on the second part of the project - from develop to deliver.
Increasing population suffering from mental disorder
The demands for psychotherapy is radically increasing in South Korea. According to the results from epidemiological investigation about mental illness, about five million people (over 10% of the population) are suffering from mental disorders in South Korea. However, only 15% of them are getting official treatment.
Limits in traditional counseling system: not accessible, high cost, social burden
Also, despite the increasing needs, the traditional face-to-face counseling system has its own limits to sustain the whole demands. Usually, the traditional treatment method is not easily accessible; most of the facilities are located near urban area, and previous appointments are always mandatory which also is hardly available to handle large group of people. Moreover, the average fee for each session is about $70, quite burdensome to many potential patients.
Limits in existing e-health applications
Even though there have been many attempts in applying psychotherapy to e-health field, most of them were rarely successful. Still, large number of the related services require similar costs, or if free, the service quality including its UX design or the information provided is not satisfactory.
Based on the problem analysis, I came up with design which started with rough sketch iteration.
In order to solve the problems, most of design decisions are made to meet the needs found from the research.
Real-time Counseling System
Spring is different from other currently existing e-health counseling service in that users can get professional feedbacks immediately. Once they post their stories, push-alarm is sent to all the registered trainees randomly. The push-alarm continues until any trainee accepts the request.
Home Screen in Feeds
This is a home screen of the application. The most recently written post by a general user is presented in a feed format. Users can swipe to look through other posts. This specific feed design is chosen because not only it is the most widely used and convenient way to read others, but also it promotes accessibility so that users feel more comfortable and relaxed in using this service.
Only approved, those who are going through official clinical psychology tranineeship are qualified to write down comments on the feed posts. Each comment screen provides 5 different guideline messages based on the Socratic Methods used in cognitive science for the traninees.
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It's most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems. Usually, the first step in CBT is that it encourages patients to train themselves to separate (1)their emotion, (2)the specific situation that made them feel that way, and (3)the reasons and thoughts about their emotion.
In Spring, general users are required to go through this 3-step process when they write their stories. By doing so, they can get used to this thinking method, and it will ultimately help them to manage their mind state more easily.
3-step process - from how you feel to how you think
The first step in writing is to scale their emotions. Though emotion can be analysed in diverse dimensions, it could be confusing for users to define their feeling; therefore, two dimensions (good - bad) are setup for users to choose.
In the second step, users are asked to write the situation that led them to feel the certain emotion. They will explain in 200 words. Also, in the third and final step, they are required to reason-out the thoughts about what led them to feel this way.
The reward system that motivates trainees to feel a sense of achievement that will ultimately make them participate more actively. After a user check the comments of his or her post, and they believe certain comment has helped him or her feel better, they can give a "sprout" as a reward to the trainee. Also, "Thank-You Note" system is added so that general users can send a message to the trainees who were helpful.
Comment selection & thank-you note
Users are encouraged to select one comment on their post that seems most helpful. They can choose on by giving the "Sprout" to the therapist. Also, there a option for users to send a "thank-you note" to the therapist. These reward system is expected to encourage the therapist to get more engaged.
Each user is given with his or her own page in which they can check new notifications and archive their past posts.
I created a deck that lists all the features and its spec. This is for documentation and communication with engineer team.