Virtual reality approaches in psychotherapy are expanding into the modern age and with immersive techniques to target and decrease Veteran combat stress, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anxiety disorders. Check out the Carbon Culture link shared link shared above and explore how these technologies are being used.
Digital storytelling is the practice of creating a narrative with digital content by including texts, images, sound, video and/or interactivity. The audio and visual technology provide limitless creative latitude and opportunities to reach a wider audience. The tradition of telling stories is universal across human culture and technology based media simply assists in creating a richer and more dynamic mode of transferring one’s experience to others. We are creatures that not only desire to listen to, but also at least momentarily experience other people’s stories. The psyche is intrigued by and imagines various exciting, pleasurable, and sometimes distressing momentarily experiences that allow us to understand the story of another person. With immersive technology, we can now willfully step into an artificial world created by the storyteller without any spatial barriers.
This year Columbia University’s Digital Storytelling Lab (DSL) introduced twelve digital films to “recognize breakthrough achievements along the wide spectrum of media that rely on digital technologies, including cinema, video, journalism, advertising, marketing, games, art, fiction, virtual reality, and experimental narratives.” I think it is worthwhile for art therapists to check out Columbia’s Digital Dozen for 2015 because many of them explore important social and psychological boundaries and issues that resonate in our practice. Door into the Dark created by May Abdalla and Amy Rose of the UK studio Anagram is particularly interesting as an “immersive documentary” experience.
Another interesting new digital storytelling experiment is Karen by Blast Theory. This is a “life coach” app that profiles you psychologically and then provides you a report at the end. With all the self-help and life coach apps that are currently on the market, someone may easily confuse this one with of those, not realizing it as an artistic experiment. This is a personalized storytelling experience that explores the boundaries of one’s social and psychological space through the interactivity of an app. The data component counters and challenges any notion of privacy and confidentiality that one might expect with a psychotherapist and perhaps highlights the vulnerability of one’s personal space in this digital age.
This symposium will bring together art therapists, artists, and video game designers and collaborative teams who are curious about and investigating digital media for therapeutic processes and healing narratives. Through this platform, we hope to support and create continued dialogue for interdisciplinary interest around digital media for therapeutic purposes. There will be a sharing of ideas and projects including methods of implementation and the implications of digital media use in therapeutic practice.
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.
I recently viewed and listened to Pablo Garcia’s video “Adventures in Virtuality” and found it most interesting to the subject matter regarding the history of virtuality as unlinked from computer-mediated tools but also regarding our relationship to art forms of illusion and ‘machine’ generated artworks. You can watch this engaging presentation at the following Vimeo link or: https://vimeo.com/90964127
As therapists, we are aware of the power of social networking and what consequences it may bring. Below are some articles that every therapists should read before posting an image, engaging in virtual contact with clients, googling our clients and reading/responding to emails from clients and their associates.
Social networking sites such as Facebook could be a great platform for building peer-to-peer relationships. However, one must clearly be aware that anyone can snoop information about you if you are careless about your privacy settings. Your postings both in text and image have the potential to create transference, boundary and trust issues with your clients.
These days, many practitioners even have a fan page of their professional practices. Most claim that they do not accept their clients as fans but how can one ensure this? Don’t they know that anyone could create a facebook page under any name?
Because Facebook mixes your personal and professional life, it requires careful and responsible attention at all times. As a budding art therapist, I recently started making changes to my FB page. Although I am not an active user of FB, I became aware of how immature my past postings were when a friend of friend recently commented on one of my early cartoonish photos.
Here are some general rules I compiled if you use FB to protect yourself and your clients.
1. Check your current profile picture. Be very very mindful when posting your profile pictures. Common Facebook faux pas include drunken and too revealing photographs. Some even post pictures of their children and wedding. I feel this is too personal and could create major transference issues with your clients. Try to be as professional and neutral as possible when picking your profile picture.
2. Check your profile and if you have a lot of info to share, such as political views and religion, make sure only your trusted friends can see them. Do not include “friends of friends” as your friends may not be as selective as you are. Best practice is to customize the privacy setting so only your “real” friends can see this info and not all of your 400 FB friends.
3. Make your likes and dislikes only viewable to you.
4. Make your friends list and photos are only viewable to your “real” friends. Privacy setting lets you specify which friends you want to show these.
5. If you want to ensure nobody finds you on FB, change the search setting to “Friends Only.” Unfortunately, you cannot filter out certain friends for the search section.
6. When you write comments on your friends’ FB pages, be mindful of the language you use and information you post.
7. Do not become “friends” with your clients and past clients. This is just common sense.
8. Do not reveal your complete birth date in FB. In this case, your financial life could be in danger. The complete date and place of your birth could be used to predict most of the digits in your Social Security number. With just a few meaningful bits of information, an identity thief can even apply for a loan in your name.
9. Do not disclose your phone number and email address in FB. Your family and friends probably don’t need to refer to FB to contact you.
10. Do not use a weak password. I cannot emphasize this enough as one of my friends’ email account was hacked by someone she knew. Her password was just too easy and predictable. In her defense, she thought nobody could guess it because it was too easy.
Below is an interesting article from The Washington Post that we should all think about.
Please share your thoughts, especially about “To Google or not” section of the article.
– by Nancy Choe