I wouldn’t call myself a Luddite, but I’m definitely a slow adopter of new technology. (Just ask anyone in our IT department.) Because of my knee-jerk distaste for change, I’m usually the last person to install computer updates or try a new tool, even if it might make my job easier. Eventually, I get there, but only when it’s clear the train will leave the station without me if I don’t jump on board.
Are we now at this point with AI?
Those in the know will remind me that AI has been driving much of my online life for quite some time, but quietly and stealthily, under such seemingly innocuous monikers as “algorithm” and “cognitive search.” Recently, though, AI has started flexing its muscles out in the open, drumming up lots of chatter about the elegance of its writing, the depth of its research capacities, and even the nuances of its tone and sentence cadence. I’m an editor. Should I be worried about a competitor—or excited about a talented assistant?
Until we started working on this issue, I hadn’t really thought about how AI will affect my own work; after all, most of what I do involves “soft” skills like building relationships with writers, developing fresh ideas for articles, and brainstorming with colleagues about how to tell compelling stories about our human vulnerabilities and capacity for emotional healing. I imagine that’s similar to how therapists conceptualize their work, too. No AI chatbot can supply the depth of attunement, empathy, and creative interventions that a good therapist can provide, right?
Well, this issue may make you think twice about those assumptions. It investigates the fast-growing capacities of “therapeutic AI,” which carry enormous risks as well as some benefits we may not have considered. Either way, what’s coming is a huge shift in how we work, one that’s bound to challenge, surprise, and stretch us.
Given the changes afoot, let’s remember that work isn’t just an isolated entity in our lives. It bleeds into our homes and our most valued relationships; at times, it provides our most valued relationships. So, in the second half of our features lineup, we explore different angles on work, including how to meaningfully integrate work issues into couples therapy, how organizational management concepts can help our day-to-day lives at home, and how to know when it’s time to stop working altogether.
Regardless of what we do for a living, or how we do it, our issues around work are rarely simple. As we brace for the big shifts to come—many of which are already here!—let’s think about how we can all make our work as satisfying and sane as possible.
Livia Kent, MFA, is the editor in chief of Psychotherapy Networker. She worked for 10 years with Rich Simon as managing editor of Psychotherapy Networker, and taught writing at American University as well as for various programs around the country. As a bibliotherapist, she’s facilitated therapy groups in Washington, DC-area schools and in the DC prison system. In 2020, she was named one of Folio Magazine’s Top Women in Media “Change-Makers.” She’s the recipient of Roux Magazine‘s Editor’s Choice Award, The Ledge Magazine‘s National Fiction Award, and American University’s Myra Sklarew Award for Original Novel.