A small study in Italy has been carried out that has found a potential new avenue for effective psychotherapy.
Using the term “interreality” to describe their new technology aided approach researchers from the Istituto Auxologico Italiano in Milan did a stress test on 121 doctors and nurses and then randomly assigned them to one of three groups.
One of the groups was given traditional therapy, which included visualisation of stressful situations, such as having to deal with a medical emergency.
The second group went through the newly designed form of therapy, that incorporated virtual reality to replace the visualisation techniques used in the first group.
The third group was simply a control group and underwent no therapy.
Each group was tested before and after the course to assess whether their levels of stress declined and by how much.
Using the technology, which incorporated biosensors, smart phones and virtual reality technology, the research team, led by Dr. Andrea Gaggioli, found that the group whose therapy was aided by technology had a better rate of improvement in stress over the course of the test than the other two groups.
“The trouble with stress is that it is so very personal” said Gaggioli. “Stress-related disorders depend a great deal on how the person experiencing a stressor is put together – psychologically and physically.”
This is why the interreality therapy is thought to work better; psychologists can assess triggers in stressful situations that can be much harder to do if the patient is simply visualising them.