Call: Interact with virtual human agent online to help refine SimCoach

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I am sure you have heard me talk about or have heard about our work on the SimCoach project over the last couple of years and some of you have been a part of the project or have used some of the software. In a nutshell, the SimCoach project aims to help break down barriers to care in Service Members, Veterans and their families by providing the option for folks to interact with an online virtual human agent in an anonymous and confidential fashion. SimCoach is NOT a “doc-in-a-box” that would replace clinical care with a live provider, but RATHER is designed to be a “toe in the water” for those who may feel they are having a hard time following their military deployment and just want some information and advice that will help them to decide if they have a problem, and if so, where they can get help. All this in a safe and confidential environment where users of the system can speak freely about their issues without judgment.

We are now at a point where we have a Beta-version of the system online for initial testing. By testing, I mean we need to get a large number of users to go up on the site to interact with the virtual human agent known as SimCoach, so we can assess how users interact with it, what doesn’t work well, and what we need to do to update, expand and evolve the system. We can’t do that well without getting a large number of interactions with the system.  Thus, I am asking you to please try the link below and interact with the SimCoach named Bill Ford, so that our software can determine where it breaks down or could be improved. This will help us when we take another pass at improving the system in order to release it into the “wild” and promote its use on a wider scale. I am also requesting that you pass this on to others, whether they be friends, colleagues, students, etc. so that we can reach our goal of a few thousand interactions and really get a good sense of what we need to do to make the system better. Also, please take 5 minutes at the end to respond to a brief questionnaire on the experience. We had a much larger questionnaire up there in the past, but a lot of the casual users that stumbled onto the site, did not take the time to fill it out due to the length. We have reduced the number of questions in order to at least get some insight into users’ perception of the system rather than the long version that didn’t get much.

For an idea of what SimCoach is intended to do, please check out this video:

To INTERACT with SimCoach and weigh in on your views about it for our research designed to improve it, please go here:

Thanks so much in advance for your time on this. If we can get this right, the system may provide a good option for Service Members, Veterans and their families who want some info and advice about PTSD in a private and confidential manner in an effort to break down some of the barriers to care.

Best Regards,


Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Ph.D.
Associate Director – Institute for Creative Technologies
Research Professor – Dept. of Psychiatry and School of Gerontology
University of Southern California
12015 East Waterfront Dr., Playa Vista, CA. 90094

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