VR to play 'very important role' in therapy
The Lithuanian consulting and software engineering house has created The VR Inner Child Tool to help cure phobias.
Developed in collaboration with practising psychotherapists, the technology helps patients overcome acrophobia (the fear of heights) but can be adapted to other anxiety disorders, including a fear of open or closed spaces, public speaking and spiders.
Telesoftas CEO Algirdas Stonys says that the technology could be helpful for patients outside of therapy sessions.
“Tools as such might be adapted to be used by the patients themselves,” he told BusinessCloud.
“Treatments do not end with the session, they continue throughout the week where the patients need to work on the disorders themselves.
“That is where VR and all types of gamified experiences tracked by the patients will play a very important role in the future.”
The technology applies principles and elements of transactional analysis theory and focuses on the free inner child ego state.
According to the theory, contact with an inner child allows patients to address the root causes of their problems and regain control over their emotional responses.
For example, while trying to overcome a fear of heights the user might meet their child avatar in an elevator. As the child interacts with them, they are then presented with the view from the top of the One World Trade Centre in New York.
The child avatar helps the patient to overcome the fear little by little by distracting and interacting with them. The therapist can track the patient’s stress parameters live and adjust the actions of the avatar accordingly.
While the technology isn’t yet at a point where it’s affordable and accessible for everyone, it’s getting there, says Stonys.
“For now this VR demo tool is created for psychotherapists and when there is proof of its effectiveness in treatment, the demand will follow,” he said.
“In the Netherlands VR treatment is already applied in psychotherapy thus it is just a matter of more years in clinical trials to get the idea widespread and funded.”
The company’s CTO Vytautas Kemešisas believes this type of therapy is ‘excellent’ as part of exposure therapy for phobia treatment and an important part of progress for mental health treatment.
“We’re a product engineering service company but we want to show what is possible when you employ technology to cure people,” he said.
“Mental health conversation in the IT industry has been gaining momentum for a while already.
“Since the beginning, the idea of creating a VR tool for mental health treatment has enchanted the whole team.
“It was something that really echoed with us, as we know the technology and we then knew there is a need.”
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