This PhD aims to explore how natural language processing techniques can be applied to data generated by users on digital counselling and support platforms to understand and predict the trajectory of the platform users. A trajectory can be defined as the steps taken by a participant in a service or experience to get to a specific outcome (Benford et al., 2009). Within the context of a counselling platform, these would be the steps taken to achieve a valuable outcome for the user.
Sefi and Hanley (2012) have previously explored the role of standardised measures in understanding the needs and goals of service users on digital support platforms (Kooth). Kooth is a web-based counselling and support platform for children and young people (CYP) aged between 11-25 years old (Hanley et al., 2021). The needs of each user on the Kooth platform is unique, and therefore each trajectory will be different. To ensure the service user gains the maximum value from the service, it is vital that the user is presented with a personalised (idiographic) experience based on their needs and goals while using the platform. However, CYP using the Kooth service were shown to have a broader range of needs than face-to-face services, suggesting that a more personalised approach to defining the needs and goals of a service user would be appropriate.
Natural language processing (NLP) is a collection of computational techniques for learning, understanding, and producing human language content
Benford, S., Gabriella, G., Boriana, K., & Rodden, T. (2009). From interaction to trajectories: Designing coherent journeys through user experiences. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings, (pp. 709-718 https://doi.org/10.1145/1518701.1518812).
Coppersmith, G., Leary, R., Crutchley, P., & Fine, A. (2018). Natural Language Processing of Social Media as Screening for Suicide Risk. Biomedical Informatics Insights, 10, 1-11 https://doi.org/10.1177/1178222618792860.
Hanley, T., Sefi, A., Grauberg, J., Prescott, J., & Etchebarne, A. (2021). A theory of change for web-based therapy and support services for children and young people: Collaborative qualitative exploration. JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting, 4(1), https://doi.org/10.2196/23193.
Hirschberg , J., & Manning, C. D. (2015). Advances in natural language processing. Science, 349(6245), 261-266 https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa8685.
Sefi, A., & Hanley, T. (2012). Examining the complexities of measuring effectiveness of online counselling for young people using routine evaluation data. Pastoral Care in Education, 30(4), 49-64 https://doi.org/10.1080/02643944.2011.651224.