Virtual Reality is about to Completely Transform Psychological Therapy – Skip Rizzo and ICT’s VR Therapy in TechInsider

Published: January 22, 2016
Category: News

An article on how VR is used in therapy to treat post-traumatic stress and anxiety featured Skip Rizzo, ICT’s director of medical virtual reality and noted ICT’s work advancing VR therapy and in using virtual humans for mental health support.
“Finally, the technology has caught up with the vision in this area, and I expect it to really take off in the next year,” Rizzo tells Tech Insider. “It has not been the theory or research that has held back clinical VR, rather the availability, adoption and costs that have limited its widespread use.”
Rizzo does think that our virtual interaction and virtual worlds will become much deeper in upcoming years, however.
Right now there’s a lot of excitement about building virtual worlds and spaces. Rizzo thinks the next big area will be the creation of AI-powered virtual humans that inhabit those worlds.
“People are going to play out a lot of interesting interactions with virtual people,” he says, including counseling, mentoring, and teaching. These “virtual humans,” which USC’s ICT is working on developing, could be an addition to already existing clinical therapies, though they’ll also play other roles.
And the potential that VR has to offer new experiences goes far beyond therapy, according to Rizzo. Those include “news stories, building empathy for the plight of others, and giving people experiences that they’d never have.”
For Rizzo, therapy and medical applications are important, but that work is still just the tip of that iceberg for what can be done with the ability to virtually transport someone to a different place.
“There are so many ways we can improve life for healthy people as well as for people with mental health conditions,” he says.
Read the full story here.