With Virtual Reality almost in our hands, there is a lot of possibilities that it can offer. Originally intended for games, experts say that VR could become a common tool for the therapists.
“The potential to treat phobias and fears is huge,” explains Chris Brewin, professor of clinical psychology at University College London. “In fact I’d put money on this becoming an important part of mental health treatment.”
Brewin and his team examined 15 people who are being treated for depression. They use VR units strapped around their head and showed them an adult avatar, imitating the patient’s body movements using haptic technology. This process is commonly known as ’embodiment’.
After that, they were shown an avatar of a crying child inside the mirror. They were tasked to comfort the child. They tell sympathetic phrases to the child to alleviate his sadness. Then after that, the roles got reversed. The patient was then embodied in the child, and they are hearing the comforting words the adult avatar is giving. This method is reported to reduce the patient’s depression level after a month.
“If you embody someone in an avatar that represents a child, you find their perception changes to more of a child’s than an adult’s, almost taking themselves out of their adult mind and body,” says Brewin.
Even though this method is new in the medicinal sector, U.S. had been using VR to treat soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan that are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders. Now with today’s technology, VR has infinite features to offer.