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agnepolder

Psychological support in Second Life

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Hi!

I do not know if this is the right forum for this question but please help me with suggestions then :)

 

I am a psychology student doing a small ethnographically project about psychological support groups and therapeutic options in SL.

 

If you have any experience with different psychological support groups or any other kind of therapeutic activity in SL and if it is no trouble I would like You to freely answer few questions about the psychological support in Second Life. You can answer as much of them as You want. Answering would help me a lot in my work :).

1. Please describe briefly the functioning of the support group You attend (How exactly is the support provided? Do you have virtual gatherings? How often the gatherings are held? How does the gathering look like? Etc.).
2. What are Your relationships with psychology, are You a patient, professional therapist, volunteer etc.?
3. In Your opinion what is the role of virtual therapy (more precisely the role of a virtual support group as in Second Life) in one's healing process in general?
4. What are the flaws of virtual support groups, what are the benefits?
5. If You are a sufferer, do You attend any other forms of psychological therapy?
6. If You are a patient how does your therapist\psychologist regard to Second Life?


Thank You a lot in advance!

agnepolder

 

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It seems to me that before asking this personal information of participants in a virtual world, many who shield their RL information for reasons of safety and other concerns, you should start your request with full disclosure of your real life name, your real life contact address and your contact phone number with the name and contact number of one of your professors for reference and validation.

I will offer that I've run into an example of someone who claimed to be a child therapist in RL and eventually, when I was unavailable to pay him any attention (I was working on a project in a sandbox...he thought I was alone and lonely) he  escalated into the worst hurling of abuse I've yet heard in SL.  So no one knows who you really are and this kind of "drawing in" of someone with weak boundries and psychological problems can lead to more damage.

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I always thought Second Life was the last retreat of those for whom all psychological support and psychiatric treatment has failed. As such, therapeutic treatment in SL seems as pointless to me as veterinarian work on an elephant graveyard.

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SECOND LIFE GAME ADDICTION SUPPORT CENTER

For those who are neglecting real life, spending too much time in Second Life, finding that they cannot reduce the time spent online on their own and unable to go a day without logging in.

The center for Second Life virtual life addiction offers support,counseling and group meetings to address virtual life usage issues that affect real lives, families, finances,personal health and marriages.


The center is located at the SE corner of De Haro sim.We work by notecard contact.There is a mailbox by the main house porch. The mailbox is checked every morning. You will be contacted to arrange time for an initial get-together to talk or just listen. She has been in Second Life since 2003 and is not easily shocked or surprised, whatever it is you need to talk about.

This is what was needed in Second Life for years; a space where people will not judge, will understand what you are going through and listen and offer support if desired.

 

agnespolder , I will post later to try and answer some of those questions. I may actually want to keep part of that private and wonder if we can communicate in IM inworld or via email.

Cathy Curie.

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"This is what was needed in Second Life for years; a space where people will not judge, will understand what you are going through and listen and offer support if desired."

By all means (sarcasm) trust people on the internet to share you intimate problems and concerns with complete discretion.  The fact that this place is a magnet for scam artists and griefers, some famous for putting private conversations out on the internet on youtube, etc., should in no way effect your decision to seek help from people behind a screen.

I also might suggest alcoholics go to their nearest bar to seek help from your affliction, the bartender is a good listener.

Heavens know there are NO therapists or trained counsellors in RL to help you.

 

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In response, I will say that the support and resource offered is real life links and referals to real life acredited therapists and counselors. Encouragement is given to use the real life resources available and the online support is simply to be an understanding contact for the times when SL gets out of hand. Again,anyone would be directed through the links and resources offered at the Center to real life counseling services.

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Post your real life links and leave it up to others to contact help in RL if they need it (if your links can be trusted).  Don't engage other people in their real life problems.   No reputable therapist would try to work with people over the internet and encourage conversations which could lead to a person slipping up and giving out real life details or other "abuses of power".  Don't prey on the weak.  No on can know for certain what your motives are no matter what you insist.  You could be roleplaying, you could be delusional, you could be a con artist.  If you are for real then set shop in RL and advertise locally and if in SL reveal your credentials with a verifyable RL address and business contact number to prove you are who you say you are.

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This has been touched on several times in the past in the forums, I believe. The general consensus was - and, as far as I'm concerned - remains, that in an entity in which anonymity is total and there is, therefore, no way to verify qualifications without going outside the medium, any person or body claiming to be a professional of any sort should be assumed to be roleplaying the part and nothing more. Exception made for those recognised RL bodies and institutions which may still operate in here and which demonstrate their RL status by providing links to their RL headquarters. I can't imagine under what circumstances, though, they'd use their SL offices for anything more than an information centre for those curious to know more about their research or methods. I've never heard of a bona fide institution carrying out actual therapy on patients who remain anonymous and thus beyond reach if direct intervention should be required. My suggestion would be to walk away from anybody claiming to be a psychologist or physician if they should mention it in any context other than simply telling you what their RL job is.

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My qualifications are very simple. In my real life, I suffered, sought help and am a recovering addict with the help of my family and church. All of it very real life. The only thing given in the Center is a notecard with testimonies, stories, links and resources. Contact in SL is simply so that there may be someone to encourage the person along. No real life information is asked. You seem really concerned and admirably sensible and I valued and welcomed your responses. Your recommendation for a real life contact phone number and address for help is a great one. Your cautions about online predatory motivators and privacy are absolutely 'bang on' and should always be at the fore of anyone's actions. Thank you!

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Nacy Nightfire wrote:

Post your real life links and leave it up to others to contact help in RL if they need it (if your links can be trusted).  Don't engage other people in their real life problems.   No reputable therapist would try to work with people over the internet and encourage conversations which could lead to a person slipping up and giving out real life details or other "abuses of power".  Don't prey on the weak.  No on can know for certain what your motives are no matter what you insist.  You could be roleplaying, you could be delusional, you could be a con artist.  If you are for real then set shop in RL and advertise locally and if in SL reveal your credentials with a verifyable RL address and business contact number to prove you are who you say you are.

What you said.

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"My qualifications are very simple. In my real life, I suffered, sought help and am a recovering addict with the help of my family and church. All of it very real life."

So now I will give you a bit of free counselling (I just realized if you take out the "U" it spells con-selling, interesting)...If you are a RECOVERING addict then you are doing your recovery a disservice by being in Second Life.  It can be a highly addictive game for people prone to addiction  and you are most likely addicted to SL, rationalizing that you are helping other people.  You are in no position to counsel other people. Yes, you can commiserate with them.  That is not helping them.

I recommend you go back to your Church and ask what programs you can volunteer for that will help other people in need...say something like helping families that are homeless..that sort of thing, all very real life.

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Thank You all for your answers and recommendations.

I have already discovered some places in SL connected with psychological therapy like the Centre of Positive Mental Health, Healthcare Island and Path of Support and as well Autism Museum and Library.

This small project I am doing now does not include anybody else. As it is project with free subject I find no point to attach my professor with that now. What I can give you is my e-mail: agne.p6lder@gmail.com and my phone nr: +306987029114. My real name is Agne Põlder but this is not hard to figure out anyways.

I am truly aware of different forms of griefing and harassment in different virtual worlds (including SL) and I also know that the subject I am dealing with is in very sensitive matter. Therefore I hope that my post in this forum did not harm anybody and I am truly sorry if it did. As I do not have much experience in this kind of research yet I am doing my best to follow up the suggestions how to do it better.

Therefore of course I do not require anything. It is your free choice. If You have an experience about psychological support in SL and you want to share it with me You can leave me an IM, notecard or write me an e-mail. As I can not think any way how to do that anonymously (your suggestions, please) I will add that everything you say will gain anonymity in my project.

Another idea that catches me now is: What if I had turned to you like a sufferer who seeks for help - Would you have answered differently?

Thank You again :)

agnepolder

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"Another idea that catches me now is: What if I had turned to you like a sufferer who seeks for help - Would you have answered differently?"

You mean if you asked me an entirely different question, would I give you a different answer?  I imagine that is not a real question but posted for effect.  You are not talking like someone who hopes to be a professional, you sound like you about to start proselytizing.

This is not a place people seek psychological help anymore then they visit a fast food restaurant to be cured of neurosis.   I haven't been on these forum very long, but I don't see any evidence of "sufferers" posting to the "Lifestyle and Relationshps" forum, although I could be wrong here.

If did think you were  someone who was "suffering"  I tell you to get off the internet and get some professional real life help.  ( If you can figure a way to show me your actual real life broken heart via the internet I'd gladly apply a real life bandage).

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AND, I strongly recommend you edit your post and remove your phone number and email address.  Just because some stranger suggests you should post it does not mean you should. That's bad judgement on your part.

My point was that no one should attempt to induce a stranger  to engage in a discussion of personal  psychological issues via the internet.  Its risky for both parties although I really am mostly concerned about the person with the emotional issues.

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Nacy Nightfire wrote:

This is not a place people seek psychological help anymore then they visit a fast food restaurant to be cured of neurosis. 

You mean that doesn't work? sad0116.gif All these wasted years... damn you McDonald's! cool-unhappy-071.gif

...Dres

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Well, of course the exception is if you have issues over not being breastfed enough McDonalds milkshakes as an infant..then I'll give you a pass.  :matte-motes-wink:

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I clicked an advertisment for some kind of therapy or help area where you can go and they had a pro there...um, the board greifed me by sending map open after map open after map open and I AR'd it and told the guy I will have to keep ARing it till he fixes it as it was so fast I could not get the maps out of my view to mute it and could not mute the map in my viewer because we cant lol. He apoligized, I checked out the place and there was some babbling boards of wisdom and I basically left and didn't bother with the place. I sort of was trying to see how it worked, but really have a lot of issues to deal with...being greifed by the location map opening htingy to find the place was really convincing me it was a trick to basically upset people...I mean, I script in SL and I know it actually could be made to harrass just me so I AR'd it. But in reaility, no one would be silly enough to make a object to target a person specifically BUT I frequently (at the time) would nto bother ARing things that are in of themselves AR-able, regardless of targeting or intentions toward me.

SO...Uh, I think SL is so full of lag and upsettiing people that it can be very scary. I used to almost shake when I tried to drive at a publicly accesible track with several people there. I didn't want to upset people ect. by hitting them. Since then I have been ran over and ran over so many avs it is stupid. The lag is always an excuse/reason or even basically fosters a who cares attitude and you start not reacting fast enough out of laziness. You also forget about being a loser and crashing because everyone does. But, yeah it can be weird for a moment because you don't want to get kicked out from a track ect. or you don't want to get people greifing you because you think you hit them on purpose ect. and the major crappyness of the lag makes it basically no big deal...everyone will walk past the area they want to, everyone will end up with thier hair stuck to thier pelvis ect.....SL is so bad, no one can tell if you are a clutz or if it is lag!

But, seeing the lag and so much technology failling I really do think we will never be able to upload our minds into smart matter and really let those copies live with a full nervous system. It can turn into a hell pretty fast. So, yeah...SL brings the whole fear of death, loss of loved ones right on back to anyone thinking those little thumb drives are  sign we will be able to download our fav celebrity personality copy and talk to them for hours and also know your loved ones will have a copy of us to let cary on and consult with or enjoy interacting with....basically, they will all die and there will be still no specular maps in SL by 2030...sad huh?

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I have to say one more thing here.  I can’t help myself, its rainy and cold and I’m cranky.

 We can all agree I hope, that there have been many destructive cults that have sprung up in this world.  A certain quasireligioussciencefictionology organization in particular has been reported to be hell-bent on convincing people psychiatric help is unhelpful and unhealthy. There are also people who feel they have seen a vision of their deity in their breakfast cereal and feel obliged to spread the word of God. And there are people who are just plain mean and predatory, they enjoy taking people down emotionally just for the sport of it.

 People with issues, whether addiction, divorce, death of a loved one, etc. can be very lost and easily led.  Second Life can be brutal and is not a particularly good place for someone in a vulnerable state if they don’t have the self-control to seek out and stick to the most benign sims.  They are UNFAIR-game for deluded and/or predatory people.

 If you read this post carefully you will notice that the original poster indicated: 1) she’s a student.  We don’t know how old  2) she is not working on this project under the authorization and guidance of a skilled practitioner/professor.

 You may also note that the 2nd poster, who advertised her counseling services, did not disclose at first that she was not a trained professional, that she herself was a recovering addict and didn’t disclose her addiction which is germane.  And she also indicated first she “offers support,counseling and group meetings” to people with a myriad of personal problems as well as helping with people who are compelled to log in to SL every day.  She then she changed her tune and claimed  what she really offers is  ” support and resource offered is real life links and referrals [sic]  to real life acredited  [sic] therapists and counselors.”  She offers help to people who feeled compelled to check into the SL everyday and she does that by checking into SL every day to pick up her mail.  Whaaa?

 I think its fantastic that there are groups and organizations in SL work with Autistic individuals, those with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury.  I’m sure the responsible adults who control and monitor these sims are protecting and observing what goes so the participants can have a safe place to congregate and share activities with others who share the same challenges, that in itself is therapeutic.  However, and I could be wrong, I doubt psychological counseling happens within SL in these venues.   That would be problematic since it would mean encouraging people to reveal many RL details that could compromise their safety and security.  

 I’m done.

 

Edited to correct a word.

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I have been involved with SL since 2004, periodically leaving and returning, as most do.

I have been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder with suicidal ideation. That basically means that in my depressed episodes I constantly think about and plan the taking of my own life. Whilst in this state I fool myself into waiting “just one more hour, if you still feel the same then do it”, until finally the feeling passes. It can take days for the feeling to subside and after this I am totally drained of energy. As hard as I try though, sleep does not come easy. Another thing I do when the dark thoughts come is to paint. I use digital art to ride the feelings out and when I start to paint I seem to paint as fast and as detailed as I can. The feelings pass after concentrating on small areas for considerable lengths of time.

So how did I get to this point....? I was diagnosed with this despicable illness in September 2010 at the ripe old age of 52. But wait there's more...apparently I have had this illness for the past 14 years or so, and have gone through that part of my life with no medication no guidance no support and no knowledge. I just thought I was the cause of everything that was going wrong in my life, my marriage, my work, my kids..........etc etc..

Understanding. That is the key. But most don’t. I have a relative who had enquired of my doctor after I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder with suicidal ideation, ‘so... does that mean he has a mental illness? ”. I kid you not.

 

I hate being a conversation starter at ladies craft groups or being offered ‘non professional’ opinions on how to ‘beat it’ or my favourite, ‘pull yourself out of it’.

Adding a diagnosis or prognosis, or a cause or a presumption of how this happened is the underpinning of all that is misunderstood or not understood about mental illness. What I’ve found is people think they know all about your condition, in fact, all mental health issues. How?.....By listening to other people with the same assumptions with no factual knowledge at all.

 

Everything that people say in their lunch rooms or dinner parties, out and about in everyday conversation about so and so’s mental condition, effects all parts of a person with these conditions lives.

Whatever you discuss whatever your opinion is will be disseminated to someone else, have their spin on it and then passed on again. Pretty soon what started as conjecture and assumption becomes fact, in the eyes of those with little understanding.

These ‘facts’, affect our employment prospects, our social interactions, our relationships, and our ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, a lot of us only see that bright light at the end of the tunnel, calling our name. ‘Facts’ that are being perpetuated until those soles afflicted and exhausted of will, believe those ‘facts’ themselves.

 

So I re-entered SL not to fall deeper into a fantasy world that I could easily let consume me but to seek others like me.  And I found them. Hundreds of them, of us. We all use this platform as a treatment tool as our own research tool not for diagnostic. Crickey my own 3 doctors have even asked me to prepare a paper for them so they can look at commending SL to their other patients, such has been the improvement in me. I have found that unlike real life I can help people like me in SL. However, I have lost most of my skill sets that you all take for granted in your every day lives. Conversations, humour even feelings of intimacy can be rediscovered in a safe environment like second life. That is how I have progressed, through learning again, those skills in SL and slowly introducing them to real life. So for those of you who poo poo the idea of researchers asking questions about SL/RL remember, no personal information is given out. They have only known me as Danny Noyes. I have participated in many over the last few months including agnepolder’s. And besides I don’t care who knows about me. If I stay hidden the disease wins again, and I’ve had enough of loosing. I want to show myself so that others may want to join me.

I’ve read in the forums yet again today complaints about Lindens doing so and so to the viewer and causing lag etc etc. Hardly a day goes by when someone else doesn’t complain. Lindens should be congratulated and thanked for providing this type of environment for people like me to try and gain their lives back. I bet in that warehouse on Linden Alley where Linden World began, they never though it could be used in such a positive, beneficial way for people suffering mental health issues, an opinion that has been expressed to me more often in the past few weeks.

I have formed a group The SL Group for Mental Illness, all are welcome. And you can see examples of artists work who suffer from mental illness at The Art of Mental Illness - Art Gallery in Saphira. (You can find it in search)



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Danny, I'm glad you found a way out of a very troubling spot, but you made my point yourself:

"Everything that people say in their lunch rooms or dinner parties, out and about in everyday conversation about so and so’s mental condition, effects all parts of a person with these conditions lives.

Whatever you discuss whatever your opinion is will be disseminated to someone else, have their spin on it and then passed on again. Pretty soon what started as conjecture and assumption becomes fact, in the eyes of those with little understanding.

These ‘facts’, affect our employment prospects, our social interactions, our relationships, and our ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, a lot of us only see that bright light at the end of the tunnel, calling our name. ‘Facts’ that are being perpetuated until those soles afflicted and exhausted of will, believe those ‘facts’ themselves."

Second Life IS the watercooler, the lunchroom, the dinner party.  Only its worse because you can't see people face to face.  Look at the problems people have on this forum.  Emotions go wild because someone doesn't pick up on another person's irony and misconstrues intent, or a poster might be downright malicious and victimize someone suffering.  Early in SL I  heard a story from a woman who was invoved in a Christian Womans group here in SL,  someone sick griefer repeatedly infiltrated the group and then harrassed these women again and again.  Because the participants were open, trusting and wanted to share, they were completely vulnerable to this harrassment which apparently followed them outside of SL.  Often people who are depressed and vulnerable suffer from the TMI condition (too much information)...they can't filter out what's personal and shouldn't be shared.  And with some deadly conditions, like anorexia, sufferers are known to gather together on the internet and it makes things worse, they compete about their condition and give each other dieting/starvation tips.

I would agree that a select grouping of conditions like Asbergers Syndrome, OCD, TBI and PTBS would benefit from a safe place to get together here in SL as long as the group is managed and vetted by a competent professional whose RL credentials are accessible.  I don't believe that goes for every psychological conditions, some folks (like the eating disordered as I mentioned) are better off NOT hanging around in groups. 

Just because (and this is anecdotal information, there's no proof here that a few of your doctors  - again: Internists?, Chiropractors?, Oral Surgeons?) having taken an interest in what seems to have helped you, means any conclusions have been drawn about the usefulness and validity of SL in your therapy.  It sounds good, it sounds like an info-mercial.  But your SL experience might help you and greatly harm someone who is depressed and 20 years old, for example.  Immersion in a virtual world or the internet in general can have some very bad results that will never be apparent to others here in SL since participation is anonymous and people can drop off the face of the earth here for no apparent reason.

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