The science behind Woebot

Who do you think you are?

We are psychologists who built programs and tools in the clinic. We worked at Stanford for over 10 years.

We love helping people & behavioral science (so much so we’ve been doing it for 20 years).

So why leave the clinic?

Because the sad truth is that more than half of the world’s population still doesn’t have access to basic health care. For many more, mental health care is not an option.

So we asked ourselves, “what tools can we use to help?”

“Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) of course!”

Don’t you need a therapist?

Not always. There’s 20+ years of rigorous research to show that DIY CBT works. CBT delivered via the Internet (and even video games!)1 can be as effective as therapist-delivered CBT for both anxiety and depression.

Most studies show that people do better with some coaching. Coaching is not the same as therapy: coaches redirect to relevant material but people still need to do the work themselves.

So what did you do?

We brought in storytellers, data scientists, engineers, and designers to combine their love of writing stories, AI, and robots with the intention of creating a companion (Woebot!) who can help people with their mental health.

But before launching Woebot publicly, we wanted to make sure he could truly help people so we did a randomized controlled trial…

Depression study

We’re committed to continuing to test Woebot’s efficacy through ongoing research collaborations with Stanford University.

Read more about the results from our study2.

What's next?

We are committed to ongoing science and research and you can read more about our studies soon.


1. Merry Sally N, Stasiak Karolina, Shepherd Matthew, Frampton Chris, Fleming Theresa, LucassenMathijs F G et al.

The effectiveness of SPARX, a computerised self help intervention for adolescents seeking help for depression: randomised controlled non-inferiority trial

BMJ2012; 344 :e2598

2. Fitzpatrick KK, Darcy A, Vierhile M

Delivering Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Young Adults With Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Using a Fully Automated Conversational Agent (Woebot): A Randomized Controlled Trial

JMIR Ment Health 2017;4(2):e19