For more than a decade, a handful of therapists have been using virtual environments to help people to work through phobias, like a fear of heights or of public spaces. But now advances in artificial intelligence and computer modeling are allowing them to take on a wider array of complex social challenges and to gain insight into how people are affected by interactions with virtual humans — or by inhabiting avatars of themselves.
A new analysis of phone therapy research by Northwestern University shows that when patients receive psychotherapy for depression over the phone, more than 90 percent continue with it. The review of a dozen studies of phone therapy showed that the average attrition rate in the telephone therapy was only 7.6 percent, compared to nearly 50 percent in face-to-face therapy.
Newly divorced, you've been cruising the Web looking for compatible singles to chat with. No one, however, seems to want to discuss your previous marriage or any of the issues you've managed to resolve in your past relationships. You wonder if you might be more in need of therapy than an Internet connection.
Well, don't despair -- there is a new trend waiting in cyberspace. Cybertherapy is available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at a minimal cost. All you have to do is send an email. But is it really something worth doing?
"The online work is great because there are so many people who will not go to a face-to-face counselor," said Joshua Kates, online marriage counselor. Online therapy lowers people's defenses, making it easier to understand what the basic problem is, he said.
About one-third of those who make a first appointment for traditional counseling never show up or never return after the first visit, according to the American Psychological Association. But there is concern in the field that online therapy is an inadequate substitute.
The field of cybertherapy is becoming more widely accepted and implemented worldwide. The advantages that tele-health and mobile health have to offer, such as more readily accessible medical records, reliable user-friendly health advice on demand and patient-centric care are undeniable, and have resulted in exciting advances in how the needs of patients and caregivers alike are addressed.
People internalize their experiences in the virtual worlds they encounter, and the results carry over into their real lives.
This seems like it might be especially promising for children with Asperger’s or other autism spectrum disorders, who often interact more easily with machines than they do with people.
And for a generation of kids growing up with video games and social media, sending your avatar to therapy might seem perfectly normal.
The U.S. Army is spending $4 million a year on research into cybertherapy for traumatized veterans, according to the Times. In a program developed at the University of Southern California, veterans roll through a virtual Iraqi village in a Humvee, which is attacked by bullets and bombs. The Army’s interest in cybertherapy evokes a certain cognitive dissonance because the military also employs virtual reality to prepare soldiers—from ground troops to pilots—for combat.
The Immersive Media and Virtual Reality industries are exploring how sound, light and other mediums of energy can influence our state of mind and health. But to scale down that concept, consider the feelings you have experienced by a beautiful view, art form, music or story in your life. Taking that effect to a higher level is what this is all about.
As science has begun to pay more attention to the influence that sounds and images can have on the brain, new fields of study are emerging. Neuroesthetics, for example, is a rapidly growing subdiscipline of neuroscience that seeks to explain and understand the impacts of music and art at the neurological level using such tools as neuroimaging and genetic analysis.
From the moment the Vietnam War vet dons the head-mounted display and enters the Virtual Vietnam landing zone, it's clear why this 3D immersive simulation has such strong potential for treating people suffering from post-traumatic stress.
The visual rendering of the virtual battlefield and surrounding jungle looks like a cartoon, but the sounds of radio chatter, shouts, rifle shots, and helicopter wings are all too real. Add to that the vibration felt in the standing platform after each mortar explosion, and it's no wonder some veterans move quickly for protective cover.
Cyber therapy is the modern equivalent of counseling which takes place online. The word 'equivalent' is used, as there are some major differences which make counselling via the Internet highly different to therapy received face to face. Some of the differences clients of cyber therapy can experience may be regarded as pros, while others are decidedly cons.