Royal College of Art

Virtual therapist to help people experiencing psychosis

People with psychosis, a mental health problem that cause people to perceive things differently from those around them, often find everyday tasks such as going to the doctor or getting on a bus very challenging. Psychological therapy can help people with the condition but the best therapy involves active coaching in the situations that people find challenging.

Currently it is difficult for people to access this psychological treatment. The result is that potentially powerful therapy is rarely delivered.

Led by Oxford University, researchers from the Royal College of Art and  partner institutions have helped to fill this gap by developing a virtual reality programme designed to help people with psychosis. In the gameChange VR programme, a computer-generated avatar guides users through powerful simulations of the scenarios they find most difficult, such as a trip to a shop, cafe, a pub, crowded street, or a visit to the GP. The confidence gained from practice in VR carries over into the real world. 

The gameChange VR programme, which will provide six 30-minute sessions, is currently being trialled with over 400 participants across England. 

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