One of the most prevalent technologies used in psychotherapy intervention is Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Both technologies are used as a tool to help guide psychotherapy treatments in patients who can benefit from interactive digital experiences. Below are two notable projects or organizations that are utilizing VR to enhance the patient’s traditional mode of psychotherapeutic experience.
MyPsySpace is a project by Missouri State University’s Second Life (SL) Prototyping Center for Psychotherapy Technologies that explores SL as a prototyping tool for HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) to offer “virtual translations of traditional expressive therapies (e.g. virtual sandplay, virtual drama therapy, digital expressive therapy, and virtual safe spaces).” The VR element is used to increase accessibility and flexibility to those who may not have the practical means to receive proper expressive therapies. MyPsySpace is designed to securely connect the therapist to a group or an individual patients located anywhere in the world. Moreover, one can virtually create any type of imaginable scenarios, images, or enact behaviors safely in the virtual space.
The Virtual Reality Medical Center located in San Diego, California specializes in using VR exposure to treat many different types of panic and anxiety disorders. Although the exposure occurs in the virtual space, the center uses non-invasive sensors to measure the patient’s heart rate, breathing rate, sweat gland activity and skin temperature. The therapist will then explain visual feedback of physiology to the patient.