TextTrainer: a dialog system to train crisis helpline counselors

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The rise of smartphone usage has changed communication patterns and paralleled an increase in individuals reporting feeling lonely and disconnected, especially amongst young adults. As a result, crisis helplines are expanding their text services to keep pace with new communication trends during a time of growing need. However, tools for training counselors remain time consuming or provide insufficient practice. TextTrainer is leveraging recent advances in natural language processing and partnerships with crisis helplines to build a dialog system to train crisis counselors on how to intervene and de-escalate crises. With this system, counselors can easily practice formulating text responses, get feedback on their responses, and gain expertise in a low pressure setting without putting any individuals in danger, thus helping crisis centers meet the rising demand for their services.

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