Mixed-Initiative Real-Time Topic Modeling & Visualization for Crisis Counseling

Karthik Dinakar, Jackie Chen, Henry Lieberman, Rosalind W. Picard


Text-based counseling and support systems have seen an increasing proliferation in the past decade. We present Fathom, a natural language interface to help crisis counselors on Crisis Text Line, a new 911-like crisis hotline that takes calls via text messaging rather than voice. Text messaging opens up the opportunity for software to read the messages as well as people, and to provide assistance for human counselors who give clients emotional and practical support. Crisis counseling is a tough job that requires dealing with emotionally stressed people in possibly life-critical situations, under time constraints. Fathom is a system that provides topic modeling of calls and graphical visualization of topic distributions, updated in real time. We develop a mixed-initiative paradigm to train coherent topic and word distributions and use them to power real-time visualizations aimed at reducing counselor cognitive overload. We believe Fathom to be the first real-time computational framework to assist in crisis counseling.

Related Content