Home > Blog > Exploring the Potential of ChatGPT for Therapy Notes: Benefits and Limitations

Exploring the Potential of ChatGPT for Therapy Notes: Benefits and Limitations

Georgi Urumov2023-02-17

Have your progress notes written for you automatically

The use of AI in therapy is an emerging field, and one application that has been discussed among therapists is the use of ChatGPT for generating therapy notes. While the idea of using AI to assist with the tedious task of writing therapy notes is appealing, there are also concerns about the ethics and legality of using a non-HIPAA-compliant program in therapy. This article aims to explore the potential benefits and limitations of using ChatGPT for therapy notes and to address the main questions and concerns that therapists have about this technology.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a language-generation AI model that can generate human-like text based on a given prompt. It has been used in various applications such as content writing, chatbots, and even poetry. However, its potential use in therapy is a relatively new concept.

The Magic of ChatGPT

And now guess what? The 2 paragraphs above were written by ChatGPT itself! How come? Let me tell you a story.

A friend of mine recently sent me a Reddit thread regarding ChatGPT for therapy notes. I thought it is a great topic to write about considering it's a very similar type of technology to what we use at Mentalyc. As the CEO of the company providing AI notes to therapists, I'm speaking with clinics every day about how AI can help therapists take notes, we discuss the benefits of such technology and potential risk.

I regularly receive emails from our users offering valuable feedback and suggestions for enhancing the AI notes they use. I also use GPT models to facilitate my work. Like in this article, I got ChatGPT to help me out. I will show you how but let's first go over the basics:

How does ChatGPT work?

ChatGPT works by using transformer models to understand the context and meaning of language, as well as relationships between words. This allows it to generate text that is more natural and human-like. For example, if given a prompt about a therapy session, it will understand the context of the conversation and generate a note that is somewhat similar to what a therapist would write.

However, as it is currently designed, it should not be used as a therapy AI scribe due to ethical and practical considerations. To effectively serve this role, a combination of a fine-tuned GPT model that has been specifically trained in therapeutic language, conversation, and other machine learning algorithms is necessary to ensure accuracy and confidentiality.

What are Transformer Models?

Transformer-based language models, such as GPT-3, use statistical patterns learned from large amounts of text data to predict the most likely next word in a given context.

Simply put, GPT-3 is a transformer-based language model developed by OpenAI, and ChatGPT is a specific application of an improved version of GPT-3, which is the GPT-3.5, also developed by OpenAI, which has been fine-tuned for conversational language processing.

However, when it comes to psychotherapy note-taking, a model like GPT-3, and by extension- ChatGPT, would only be as accurate as the data it has been trained on.

As ChatGPT is currently designed, it should not be used as a therapy AI scribe due to ethical and practical considerations. To effectively serve this role, a combination of a fine-tuned GPT model that has been specifically trained in therapeutic language and conversation, and other machine learning techniques are necessary to ensure accuracy and confidentiality.

The Origin Story of ChatGPT

OpenAI released ChatGPT in November 2022 and it quickly gained popularity. At Mentalyc, we have tested various versions of the GPT models from OpenAI for our AI-based progress notes for therapists. These models come in different sizes, some of which are commercially sold by OpenAI and some are open source and can be used without additional training or can be fine-tuned for specific industries.

ChatGPT is the latest iteration of text language models from OpenAI and is currently available for public testing. The chat-like interface makes it accessible and easy to interact with, even for non-technical users. The mainstream adoption of ChatGPT became apparent in December when my cousin mentioned using it to generate sales job applications, and discussions among therapists on Reddit further demonstrate its popularity.

ChatGPT in Action

To quickly understand what therapists’ beliefs are when it comes to ChatGPT, I copied and pasted a Reddit conversation among therapists on ChatGPT’s interface and asked it to tell me what are the main questions and concerns of therapists from that thread. As simple as that! Let's see what we got:

Chatgpt therapy note output

Output

Main Questions and Concerns:

  • Can ChatGPT be used to assist therapists with their workloads in the future, particularly in writing therapy notes?

  • Is ChatGPT a HIPAA-compliant program, and if not, what are the obstacles that need to be overcome to make it ethical and legal to use in therapy?

  • How does the quality of therapy notes produced by ChatGPT compare to those written by therapists?

  • Will AI ever replace human therapists in providing therapy services?

Pretty accurate, isn't it?

The second part of the task involved creating a summary of this article. The ChatGPT did a commendable job, but some modifications and additions were necessary for accuracy. With its assistance, the task was completed much faster than it would have been without its help.

The same applies to therapists who use Mentalyc for writing therapy progress notes. The technology may not complete the task entirely, but it can significantly reduce the amount of time spent on each note. On average, therapists using Mentalyc take just 3 minutes to write each progress note, while those who do it manually can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.

I believe this is the future of many fields including mental health, and therapists should understand it well enough to be able to make a conscious choice of which tool they can use in their practice. There is no question that this type of technology will be used and will become better, so avoiding it is counterproductive. Now let's see how it can be used safely.

Benefits of Using ChatGPT for Therapy Notes

According to ChatGPT, using AI for therapy note generation can offer multiple benefits, including:

  • Efficient Time Management: Generating therapy notes manually can be a tedious and time-consuming process. ChatGPT can simplify this task, thereby freeing up more time for therapists to focus on their patients.

  • Consistent and Comprehensive Documentation: AI-generated notes are more likely to be consistent in terms of format and language, helping to ensure that important information is captured and recorded accurately.

  • Bridging the Language Gap: For therapists who are not native English speakers, writing notes in English can be a challenge. ChatGPT provides a solution by assisting in generating notes in clear, concise, and effective English.

Note: It is important to note that the accuracy of the notes generated by ChatGPT is dependent on the quality and completeness of the training data it was trained on, as well as the context of the input provided.

Drawbacks of Using ChatGPT for Therapy Notes

As per the discussion on a Reddit thread, ChatGPT faces several limitations when it comes to therapy note generation:

  • Lack of HIPAA Compliance:ChatGPT is not designed to meet the strict security standards set by HIPAA regulations. This means that actual session information cannot be inputted or processed using ChatGPT, making it unsuitable for use in a clinical setting.

  • Note Quality:While ChatGPT can generate notes that resemble those written by therapists, the quality of the notes may not be up to par. There is a risk of inaccuracies or missing information, requiring therapists to review and edit the notes before they can be used.

  • Limited Role in Therapy: It's essential to understand that AI, including ChatGPT, cannot replace human therapists. ChatGPT can assist therapists in writing notes, but it cannot provide the human connection and empathy that are fundamental to the therapeutic process.

AI-Powered Alternative for Psychotherapists

Mentalyc is a specialized AI scribe designed to meet the unique needs of psychotherapists. Utilizing advanced NLP techniques, including GPT models, to streamline the note-taking process by automatically generating detailed, personalized notes from pre-recorded therapy sessions. With Mentalyc, therapists can focus on their clients rather than manually taking notes.

Benefits of Mentalyc, As Reported by Therapists:

  • Streamlined Insurance Compliance:Mentalyc generates notes that are well-structured and customized to each therapy session, reducing the risk of messy notes or duplication of information. The AI system ensures that all the necessary information is captured to meet insurance requirements to prove medical necessity, freeing therapists from the added worry.

  • Improved Case Formulation:Consistent and comprehensive notes generated by Mentalyc make it easier for therapists to track client progress and maintain a clear understanding of their story.

  • Augmented Therapy Experience:Mentalyc provides therapists with different perspectives and insights, enhancing their awareness and overall therapy experience.

  • Increased Focus on the Client:Mentalyc allows therapists to stay fully present with their clients, without having to switch tabs or interrupt the session to document notes.

  • Accommodating for Disabilities: Users with disabilities, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, have reported finding Mentalyc to be a lifesaver, reducing the strain on their hands while generating notes.

  • Empowering for Neurodiverse Therapists:Mentalyc has received positive feedback from therapists with neurodiverse conditions, such as ADHD, who appreciate the assistive technology and the improved therapy experience it provides.

Comparison between Mentalyc and ChatGPT

  • Mentalyc operates in a similar manner to ChatGPT, converting therapy transcripts into notes, but with a key distinction - Mentalyc is specifically designed for therapy and therefore performs this task with greater accuracy and efficiency compared to the general-purpose ChatGPT.

  • Mentalyc also processes audio recordings of the therapy sessions without having the therapist independently generate session transcripts as is the case with using ChatGPT.

Conclusion

ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the process of creating therapy notes, offering benefits such as time savings and increased consistency. However, its non-compliance with HIPAA regulations is a significant concern.

To overcome these limitations, dedicated tools like Mentalyc, which are specifically designed for the psychotherapy field and comply with HIPAA, can be considered. Despite its advantages, it is important to acknowledge that AI cannot replace human therapists and should be used as a complementary tool.

As the use of AI in therapy continues to evolve, it is crucial to consider both ethical and legal implications. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding ChatGPT, Mentalyc, and concepts about AI and therapy notes, please don't hesitate to reach out here.


About the author

Georgi Urumov

Georgi is a highly skilled professional with more than a decade of experience as a full-stack developer and Machine Learning Engineer. He has an extensive background in diverse fields such as process automation, web development, Web3, Computer Vision, and NLP. As the CTO of Mentalyc, a company he co-founded with Maria Szandrach in 2021, Georgi is committed to realizing his dream of using data-driven technologies to create human-centric solutions that can help alleviate mental health issues.

Learn More About Georgi

Disclaimer

All examples of mental health documentation are fictional and for informational purposes only.

Speed up your note-taking process

See More Posts


background

The Ultimate Guide to the Best HIPAA Compliant EHRs

99404 CPT Code (description, code time, reimbursement, modifier, documentation requirements, frequency)

90838 CPT Code (description, code time, reimbursement, modifier, documentation requirements, frequency)

Show more