I just finished a really long reply to you that turned into ether thanks to the forum :'( ??? :o
Well, now that I have composed myself and not thrown my laptop against the wall, here’s a synopsis of my beautiful epic post :( :
Congratulations on your career choice, you will make a great therapist!
I went into great and unnecessary detail about my personal history with therapy dogs (incredible animals) and yet they still had limitations and were not effective with all patients for various reasons.
Very poetically, I went on to explain how I believe that therapy avatars “work” by evoking an emotional response, and how as unique individuals, what provokes an emotional response in one individual, will not necessarily provoke the same response in another individual.
I used an example from your post: “Aibo is what made me fall in love with social robotics”, obviously if Aibo could provoke this feeling in you (strong enough to use the work love), he could provoke that same feeling in SOME others in a therapy situation.
Therapy avatars (or therapy animals) will never be “enough xxxxxx” (fill in the blank) for all patients.
Our brains are amazing and confusing places, and what makes them light up is anybodies guess, which make it such a great field of study!