An interesting article appeared in the new scientist by reporter Samantha Murphy in the article Murphy suggests that the interactive role-playing game “second life” could offer an innovative way of working for psychotherapists/counsellors. In the piece, Murphy suggests that an avatar; a virtual caricature of oneself, could see clients in a virtual office.
This may not sound as far-fetched as one would imagine, think of the advantages, the client could log on from anywhere in the world and have a virtual therapy session, at any time of day or night.
The article did make some interesting suggestions, on how this may help clients. One suggestion was working with clients with phobias such as agoraphobia; in severe cases the client would not be able to leave the safety of their own home, but using a virtual space the client could experience what it’s like to be outside, whilst in the comfort of their own home. The article suggests that the therapist may be able to guide the client through stressful environments and help them manage this in virtual space. Effectively, the therapist could create stressful environments and help the client manage this using their avatar (their virtual person).
Another interesting suggestion was that it might be able for the psychotherapist councillor to reconstruct stressful environments for sufferers of PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). Here again, the therapist would construct a virtual moment in time and help the client work through this in virtual space. Using virtual reality the client can really work in the moment and the here and now. With the ability to be able to freeze time, in the virtual world, the therapist would be able to ask the client how they feel at that moment. Of course, how this all looks and how the therapist would hold professional boundaries in this virtual world is yet to be decided. Another factor, to be considered is would people, embrace new technology such as a virtual world quickly, or will this be a passing idea, time will only tell.
This is certainly pushing the boundaries, Eleos Counselling is very interested in embracing new technologies and has done since its inception in 2013. How working in virtual reality will really look like is yet to be seen, but please watch this space and we will keep you updated on our progression into the world of virtual reality.