Virtual Reality Therapy For Chronic Anxiety & PTSD
The focus of this project is to create an Immersive Virtual Reality application that will allow those who suffer from Chronic Anxiety & PTSD a safe space; where they can learn to self soothe, develop coping skills and foster a sense of well-being.
The application will be used with a Virtual Reality head set in a therapy setting with guidance and/or self-directed at home. It will be an environment that can be manipulated with movement and sound, which will allow the user to become fully immersed and focused on mindfulness.
Being diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder can be an incredibly isolating and painful experience. The sense of not belonging, being different or inferior in some way, can prolong the time it takes to regain a sense of self-control in life.
Breaking the stigma of mental illness (we all have the capacity to feel anxiety) and offering empathetic support could mean the difference between surviving and thriving. Repeated immersive exposure to a 'safe place' where you can learn how to ground yourself and find the inner strength required to challenge negative belief structures is central to minimizing anxiety/panic attacks and preventing depression.
I believe that Immersive Virtual Technology could be a powerful tool in the area of wellness-based therapy, due to the vast potential of sensory stimulation and the ability to curate an altered reality.
I have begun working with the McMaster Innovation Factory and select industry professionals to conduct research and to make connections between the symptoms of Anxiety/PTSD and the possible benefits of using Immersive Virtual Reality experiences as a vehicle to promote self-regulated care. When the research is concluded; the project will enter a design phase and plan out the immersive experience. The next step will be prototyping. I will work with a small team of 3D artists and developers to create an effective prototype and test it in patient groups with therapist supervision and feedback. The target date to launch the App will be a year from now. Spring 2018.