In one of my previous posts I mentioned a phenomenon called presence, which is a potent experience capable of convincing a person that they occupy a place which they do not exist physically. This experience is difficult to describe but is the quintessential point I, and other researchers in the field of virtual reality, believe the technological and the therapeutic intersect. This post will attempt to explain how presence is achieved and how it can be therapeutic.
Presence, in terms of artistic experience, is also called immersion, explained by philosopher, Samuel Coleridge, as a “suspension of disbelief”. This experience can occur in any medium, such as a good book, or a tv show. If you can imagine a quiet evening with a book where an exciting story can make you forget that you have been turning the page for hours. This is an example of immersion. You feel as though you are a visitor to the story, or a witness to the events unfolding in your minds eye. What virtual reality (VR) accomplishes is immersion but replacing the minds eye with direct visual input. Continue reading *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
Moore’s law is an observation of exponential improvement in digital technology both due to the accumulating effect of research and development, and also the falling consumer cost of products. This describes a trend that we have been witnessing for the past few decades, and the explanation to our increasingly digital life style as Canadians. Computers used to be the size of trailer homes and very costly, convincing people that it was impossible that the computer would ever be a mainstream consumer product. The average person today carries with them more computer power in their pocket than was used during the Apollo missions to put humans on the moon. So what does this have to do with counselling and psychotherapy?
A new fleet of wearable technologies will be saturating the markets in the coming years. These technologies have great implications for how we interact with our world and with each other. Virtual reality (VR) can become one of those technologies which revolutionizes psychotherapy. VR is typically experienced through a head-mounted device and gives the user the experience of presence, a phenomenon whereby the user is convinced they are in a place other than reality, regardless of their conscious acknowledgment that what they are witnessing is not real. Once a person puts on one of these headsets, they are transported into an entirely crafted digital world . The programmable nature of digital technology means that a user can exist anywhere in reality, and in fantasy. A person can experience the thrill and excitement of a 100 foot high roller coaster, and moments later, be visibly shaken, left alone in a claustrophobic series of hallways and crypts. One can soar gracefully through space observing spiral galaxies to an accompanying orchestra, or simply relax within a virtual cinema with friends and family connected through the internet. Due to VR’s powerful impact, it has the potential to provide convincing therapeutic tools to aid in many therapies which rely on visualization, such as therapies to help manage phobias, anxieties, depression, and even mindfulness training for relaxation, among others.
Continue reading *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA