Friday, February 10, 2012

New Therapy Tool on the Horizon For Survivors of Sexual Assualt – The Therabot!

Dr. Bethel at Mississippi State is developing a robotic support tool, called the "Therabot" initially in a teddy bear form. Dr. Bethel and her team will conduct further study to determine the best form for the “Therabot.” As a survivor of sexual assault Dr. Bethel has a special interest in developing therapy support tools for therapeutic use with survivors of sexual assault and other traumatic events. The Institute for Survivors of Sexual Violence and The Institute for Rapid Resolution Therapy along with IRRT Certified Practitioners across the country have partnered with Dr. Bethel in this exciting research.

For more information about this research or to participate, contact IRRT Executive Director, Melinda Paige, Ed.S, LMHC, NCC at 800-587-2623 or

Bio for Cindy L. Bethel, Ph.D.

Cindy will be starting as an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Mississippi State University in August 2011. She will be the Director of the Social, Therapeutic, and Robotics Systems (STaRS) Laboratory that she will be starting at MSU. Cindy is a NSF/CRA/CCC Computing Innovation Postdoctoral Fellow and Postdoctoral Associate in the Social Robotics Laboratory at Yale University. She is currently working with Brian Scassellati as her fellowship mentor. She was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and the recipient of the 2008 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Graduate Fellowship. She graduated in August 2009 with her Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of South Florida. Her research interests are in Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), affective computing, robotics, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and artificial intelligence. She has doctoral minors in psychology and applied statistics. She graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science Summa Cum Laude from the University of South Florida. She was awarded the King O’Neal Scholar award, the Computer Science and Engineering Outstanding Graduate Award, and the Engineering Alumni Society Outstanding Senior of the Year Award.

Additional Information:

Cindy is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual assaults. She received counseling as an adult from different counselors, but received the most significant assistance from Melinda Paige, RRT Master Certified Practitioner, using the Rapid Trauma Resolution. She has a personal interest in trying to enhance the therapy process through the use of technology. Providing a robotic therapeutic support tool to not replace a therapist but provide support during therapy. This will also be a tool that patients can take home to assist in practicing their therapy techniques while at home. The platform will take the form of a stuffed animal but will be responsive and provide support and encouragement to patients undergoing therapy.

Mississippi State University and other Resources:

Mississippi State is a land-grant university with a focus in the Engineering and Agriculture disciplines. The university is a Carnegie Research Intensive university. It was established in 1878. Cindy will have the full support of the university in the establishment of a robotics program in the Computer Science and Engineering Department and will work closely with Bryan Jones, an Associate Professor in Robotics in the Computer Engineering Department. She will also collaborate with professors in the Cognitive Science and Psychology Departments at MSU.

Additionally, Cindy has resources in the Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering Departments at Yale University and a Psychophysiology professor at University of South Florida.

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