Xiruo Ding


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Improving Classification of Infrequent Cognitive Distortions: Domain-Specific Model vs. Data Augmentation
Xiruo Ding | Kevin Lybarger | Justin Tauscher | Trevor Cohen
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Student Research Workshop

Cognitive distortions are counterproductive patterns of thinking that are one of the targets of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These can be challenging for clinicians to detect, especially those without extensive CBT training or supervision. Text classification methods can approximate expert clinician judgment in the detection of frequently occurring cognitive distortions in text-based therapy messages. However, performance with infrequent distortions is relatively poor. In this study, we address this sparsity problem with two approaches: Data Augmentation and Domain-Specific Model. The first approach includes Easy Data Augmentation, back translation, and mixup techniques. The second approach utilizes a domain-specific pretrained language model, MentalBERT. To examine the viability of different data augmentation methods, we utilized a real-world dataset of texts between therapists and clients diagnosed with serious mental illness that was annotated for distorted thinking. We found that with optimized parameter settings, mixup was helpful for rare classes. Performance improvements with an augmented model, MentalBERT, exceed those obtained with data augmentation.

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Identifying Distorted Thinking in Patient-Therapist Text Message Exchanges by Leveraging Dynamic Multi-Turn Context
Kevin Lybarger | Justin Tauscher | Xiruo Ding | Dror Ben-zeev | Trevor Cohen
Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology

There is growing evidence that mobile text message exchanges between patients and therapists can augment traditional cognitive behavioral therapy. The automatic characterization of patient thinking patterns in this asynchronous text communication may guide treatment and assist in therapist training. In this work, we automatically identify distorted thinking in text-based patient-therapist exchanges, investigating the role of conversation history (context) in distortion prediction. We identify six unique types of cognitive distortions and utilize BERT-based architectures to represent text messages within the context of the conversation. We propose two approaches for leveraging dynamic conversation context in model training. By representing the text messages within the context of the broader patient-therapist conversation, the models better emulate the therapist’s task of recognizing distorted thoughts. This multi-turn classification approach also leverages the clustering of distorted thinking in the conversation timeline. We demonstrate that including conversation context, including the proposed dynamic context methods, improves distortion prediction performance. The proposed architectures and conversation encoding approaches achieve performance comparable to inter-rater agreement. The presence of any distorted thinking is identified with relatively high performance at 0.73 F1, significantly outperforming the best context-agnostic models (0.68 F1).