Couldn’t join us for last week’s AppChat with Hopelab? Read the highlights below from moderators: positive psychology expert, Ximena and Vivibot project lead, Michael.

AppChat Questions

Part 1: Survivorship, Positive Psychology, and Purpose

Hi everyone! My name is Ximena and I will be your moderator for the chat. It all started the summer after college — I had plans to go to graduate school to study positive psychology. I am from Oregon, and my school is in Southern California, so my family and I road tripped it down to CA and moved all of my things into my new apartment. I got a call from my dermatologist that I had melanoma after a new student mixer one evening.

Luckily, my family was still there, so we packed up all of my things and drove back up to OR so that I could get treatment. I spent that year at home recovering and working with children at a daycare. It was an unexpected year to say the least! Now, I am back in CA and am in my second year of graduate school studying positive psychology.

How did you come to study and incorporate purpose/positive psychology into your life?

I love studying positive psychology for many reasons, but I think that the biggest one for me is that it is providing me with tools to help people live purposeful and fulfilling lives.

Traditionally, the field of psychology focused primarily on helping individuals with various disorders get to a neutral level of functioning. But, positive psychology focuses on getting someone from a neutral level of functioning to thriving.

I try to incorporate positive psychology into my life as much as I can, and I frequently focus on cultivating a sense of gratitude for life. This was especially difficult after my diagnosis, because I felt anything but grateful after first hearing the news. I actually felt terrified and like my world had been flipped upside down.

As time went on, I found myself frequently being incredibly grateful for everyone who was there supporting me.

Do you feel like cancer has impacted your life/ who you are as a person? If so, how? If not, why not?

I feel that cancer has certainly impacted my life, I feel like I now view life as much more fragile, and so precious. I think it has made me hone in on what is really important to me in life.

Where you are now / what do you think is your purpose?

I always knew that I wanted to help other people, but after my cancer diagnosis, I felt very passionate about helping other individuals with cancer and cancer survivors.

I do feel like there is tremendous potential for post traumatic growth after this experience, and I would love to help foster it in cancer survivors.

The 7 skills that Vivibot covers

There are Positive Psychology skills that Vivibot (the chatbot for individuals with cancer and cancer survivors that was made by Hopelab) teaches.

These are:

  • noticing and savoring positive events
  • practicing gratitude
  • positive reappraisal
  • random acts of kindness
  • mindfulness
  • attainable goals
  • personal strengths

Since one of my favorite practices is fostering a sense of gratitude, let’s do a gratitude activity.

Why doesn’t everyone list 3 things that you are grateful for?

This is one of my favorite exercises, and I had a professor once who told our class that he did this every time he woke up “before his feet hit the floor”. He said it was a great way to start off the day.

Vivibot is a chatbot that actually does practices like the gratitude activity we just did.

Part 2: Chatbots

Hopelab created this bot in collaboration with young adult cancer survivors. Hopelab is a social innovation lab based in San Francisco. This bot is made to be used through Facebook Messenger.

I guess I just wanted to start off by asking, what do you think a chatbot is?

(I had no idea what it was before talking with Vivibot). A chatbot is actually a robot that automatically responds when being asked questions.

I have tried chatting with Vivibot, and the first thought that came to my mind was that I wished that I had access to this when I was just diagnosed with cancer.

Immediately when that happened, I didn’t really have the words to describe how I was feeling and had a lot of processing to do. I think that this bot may have helped with that.

Vivibot can actually act as kind of a launching pad that might help cancer patients / survivors to a place where they can talk to other people (therapists, counselors, etc) about their experience.

If you’re interested in trying out Vivibot you can check out her FB page and start chatting with her now!

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