Will A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) Replace Counsellors?

The rise of A.I. or artificial intelligence is scary as it will revolutionize industries as well as society as a whole. You may have already experienced its wake in targeted marketing ads.

I just mentioned ‘coloured printers’ in one of my conversations then suddenly it’s laser printers all around my recommend ads. Some computer (or some form of intelligence) was listening out there and it processed what I said and responded to it.

Speaking of the effects of A.I., one of the first things it will affect is employment.

Even as of now, we already see less and less staff in restaurants. Less people are involved in flying a plane for example; pretty soon, we will see driverless cars. As an educator myself, I see more and more computers replace human lecturers in the classroom as videos of lectures are rapidly pushing us human teachers aside. I do understand and accept this outcome: replacing lecturers with online videos is not only much cheaper for the institution, it also ensures the consistent quality of the lectures delivered to the students.

Production line from the FORD factory.

There was a time when factories were lined up with people in the so called production line. We all know what happened to them, they were replaced or should I say displaced by machines.

I guess that’s the trend of life. As technology progresses, the more mechanical a job is, it will become obsolete and it will be replaced by more efficient means.

AI girlfriends are already available for purchase.

We have A.I. replacing artists.
A.I. replacing doctors.
A.I. replacing friends (and girlfriends).
I even know pastors who have dabbled with this technology and tried using A.I. to generate their sermons!

So let’s accept this that AI is going to revolutionize society – first by pushing off now redundant professions. My thoughts for this article is, how will A.I. affect the counselling world? Even as we speak counselling apps are popping up in the app store. Both counsellors and counselling students ask: like the factory workers to machines, will A.I. replace us?

My answer is a definite NO.

These A.I. counsellors wannabe do not only struggle to think and act like humans; they can never provide the emotional contact, the so-called human touch, to their clients. A key method we use in counselling is counsellor disclosure.  This is where the counsellors share their own personal story and personal experiences in order to present our human side to the clients. I remember sharing my feelings to a client on how frustrating it is to be ‘voted against’ at home. I personally had to go through a time where both my daughter and wife wanted to have cats so badly that they conspired to bring me to a cat cafe and then to a cat shelter afterwards. I did appreciate the effort and the cunningness but man, the mixture of guilt and anger was just terrible.  My client then didn’t have the exact experience but we were able to connect as soft-hearted men on how it feels to be overpowered by the females at home.  

This article is not about that stressful event but on how will then a computer connect to their clients on issues like this? Will the A.I. be honest enough to say “I am not human so I don’t know how it is to have family conflicts” or will the A.I. will stick to pure facts and respond with: “based on past cases I’v gathered in the internet, it sucks to be you right now.” Either way, the A.I. would have to lie through the facade that they are just mindless soulless machines that will never have a conscious experience of being human. The client will sense this artificiality (this funny feeling we get when we see a dead body), this lack of life and will start to withdraw from the situation. 

I have dabbled with online counselling for quite some time now, and even if I know that I am communicating with a fellow human being on the other line, I still crave for the actual human contact brought about by the warmth of meeting someone face to face. Text based counselling with another human being is bad enough, how much more if there’s truly no one on the other side? As introverted as I am, even a person like me craves for human contact, human company, that human energy exchange.

Dealing with computers obviously moves us away from our humanity. This is simply the paradox of progress.

This A.I. counselling is a terrible idea and it is a trap that will further push away counselling clients from human connection. This idea is good for businessmen, bad for counsellors and deadly to counselling clients.

This A.I. revolution will only highlight the need for human contact.

A.I. will push people further away from each other the way dating apps changed the landscape of courtship just within the past 10 years.

We have a counselling joke:
Who do you get marriage advice from?
One who is married once? Or one who was married thrice?
Now you want to discuss marital stuff with a thing? I might as well consult a Ouija board or a Magic 8 ball!

There is no such thing as A.I. counselling because counselling is all about HUMAN CONTACT.

People look for real counselling and real counselling involves real human beings engaged in real human contact.

Counselling provides and fulfills this human connection while A.I. drives the person to the opposite direction. Again I say this: that our drive to push machines to think like us will eventually lead to the road where we get pulled in to think like them (machines).

It is not just going to fail, it would create more problems. I urge current counsellors and future counsellors to continue in pursuit of this very human path and not be discouraged or deterred by these technological attacks and false predictions.

This A.I. revolution will highlight the need for human contact. And we will be there when the time comes.

If you are in need of good old fashioned Christian Counselling, please contact us through:


Whatsapp/SMS at 98953786

Telegram @KirbyChua

Related Articles