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Psychological support in Second Life


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Nacy Nightfire wrote:

I think its time to put this topic to bed.

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Nacy Nightfire wrote:

I really do worry about the welfare of these people and the potential problems they may run into in SL.

I know you do... so do I. With that I'm putting myself to bed, as well.

...Dres

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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? All these wasted ye

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:


Dresden Ceriano wrote:


Carole Franizzi wrote:


The OP was most definitely about psychotherapy.

Yeah, but not the administering of it in SL. It's my belief that the questions were about therapy in conjunction with SL use and "(more precisely the role of a virtual support group as in Second Life)".

Maybe that's just me.

...Dres

Oh! Maybe that's what was meant. Am I correct in saying the OP never really came back after several people had pointed out the impracticalities of therapy in SL? That to me was rather indicative of this whole thing being a not-very-well-thought-out idea and one which might have been shelved, however, you may well be right - maybe it was aimed at patients who, together with their therapists, have moved part/all of their sessions on-line. I know that is being done - in SL and elsewhere - though I wouldn't have imagined that the total number of those doing it, narrowed even further by the natural reluctance to discuss one's psychotherapy with a student, would have been very high.

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Dresden Ceriano wrote:

I took psychological support group to mean a lay persons' support group for sufferers of psychological problems. But, your right, putting psychological in front of it does change things. In which case, they would, indeed, both be the same thing.

The only way I could see conducting actual group therapy in SL is if there was a real life arrangement first, where everyone is known to be who they are and which would be closely monitored by professionals in some closed off group.

 

Carole writes:

And apparently that is being done. I've read the odd article about on-line therapy in general and I know some therapists believe it may be useful in overcoming certain barriers in communication (the distance and detachment of communicating only through text makes people discuss matters which otherwise they'd find profoundly embarassing). However, as you say - it's always a patient-therapist relationship established in RL which uses cyberspace as a virtual couch and is never between two anonymous avatars.

PS I caught the post-deletion version of the other thread you linked. Now, that's scary. I don't remember who said this but, I whole-heartedly agree with the suggestion of taking action against people who claim RL medical qualifications as an excuse to operate "professionally" in here.

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My Doctors, a psychiatrist and a psychologist, have both encouraged me to participate in sl support groups. As I said in my first post they and others like them are looking to see if virtual worlds can be used as a tool to encourage people into communicating and learning  life skills involving other people. I mean that is how we exist in daily lives through interaction with others. So they would like to see if worls such as SL can be of benefit. That is why they have asked me to produce a monthly synopsis if you like, on my experiences. They have seen how much it has helped me and maybe it can be used to help others. Its obvious that this is happening in other parts of the world, as per the research under taken by agnepolder.

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Sorry that it took me so long to answer and thank You for meaningful and objective answers.

As I am working on project about psychological support in Second Life I have been investigating a lot of material about virtual therapy, avatar therapy and options of virtual psychological support that also Second Life offers. All are nicely proven scientifically or pointed out by people who have experience in this matter which can be reliable in some cases as well. If wanted I can share my list of references. So far some interesting reading:

Gorini, A., Gaggioli A., Vigna, C., & Riva, G. (2008). A Second Life for eHealth: Prospects for the Use of 3-D Virtual Worlds in Clinical Psychology. Reviewed by D. Keeling and M. K. Boulos. Journal of Medical Internet Research: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2553247/

Samantha Murphy 2010. The Virtual Therapist Will See You Now. New Scientist:

http://www.onlinetherapyinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/newscientist.pdf

As I posted this topic I expected to hear about different experiences about virtual support in SL. Practically – Is it working or not? I did not ask anybody to tell me very intimate details about their disorders or problems. Instead of that in some point I got an opinion of a so-called average-Joe which is useful because it helps me to understand the role of and common knowledge about virtual psychological support in general. Moreover, reading previous posts I am thinking that one can make a really interesting fieldwork based on forums like this because at one point it comes just trying out one´s rhetorical skills or finding a relief for a bad, cranky mood.

Of course the phenomenon of virtual therapy and as well virtual psychological support needs to be investigated more before to make clear suggestions to use it. So far it cannot be a good replacement for a real life professional psychological help. As Danny mentioned it can be a treatment and if it is working I think one does not need to doubt about its existence. And most of the people I have met here so far troubling with psychological disorders attend therapy in real life as well. Of course virtual form is not suitable for everybody. But in some cases it can be only solution for example patients living in areas where there are no real-life therapists or support groups nearby.

The support groups are sometimes leaded by professional therapists but here in Second Life mainly by volunteers, people who want to help or people who know what that kind of condition really means. I am sorry if I got you confused by the terms but by psychological support I meant actually any kinds of treatment that helps you psychologically, it does not has to be professional.

For sure Internet and virtual worlds create a lot of problems like Internet and gaming addictions and sometimes too hostile or too encouraging environments for sensitive patients. In my opinion this is exactly why the virtual therapy options should be developed – to get something supportive aside this non-supportive environment.

As we are all anonymous here till some point, I find it is not a big point to make a discussion out of how one´s anonymity can harm the other, it is everybody´s free choice how much they share. In many sad cases, of course, it is possible that somebody harms the other, but it is as possible in real world as well. As I do not want to start making presumptions about this subject without previous experience and in this kind of environment I have no other options whether to believe or not if somebody has a real experience to share in this matter only relying on his words. I am really glad that those few people here who shared their experience find SL as a treatment tool helpful.

Of course it is better to be in real world, cure oneself there, but yet so there is thousands of people in-world any moment of the day.

Thank You!

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Thank you so much for your response & clarification, agnepolder.

Btw, this is the group I mentioned above, They have been recognized in the media & by the Second Life Destination Guide as a legitimate support group.

Fearless Nation

(Edit to add links)

http://thirdofalifetime.com/2011/01/24/fearless-nation-first-in-ptsd-support-in-second-life/

http://www.ptsdanonymous.org/option-fearless-nation

http://www.gamekudos.com/news/4031-video-games-help-soldiers-deal-with-combat-stress

 

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Well i'd just like to mine in on this one to tell about two of the people i've met so far who have been "helped" in SL by self appointed psychological counsellors. 

The first was seriously considering ending her RL relationship as she had been advised that there had been a transfer in this relationship therefore it was essential to get out ASAP. Luckily i managed to convince her to find a competant RL psy who explained that all relationships include a certain amount of transfer.

The second had been convinced that she was clinically definable as a full blown masochist. I managed to google the real clinical definiton for her (number of cases exremely rare, symptoms unrepeatable on this forum) 

Sooo ... i decided to check out a few of these help groups ... was ejected from two of them simply because of  politely questioning some rather doubtfull analasys and providing links to reliable sources of information ... after that i gave up from exasperation, or maybe boredom.

I'm not saying that competant groups don't exist in sl, but if i needed help i certainly would'nt go looking for it here or on any kind of virtual platform.

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  • 7 months later...

I believe that the behavior of people in virtual spaces, including SL, must be fascinating for a Mental Health professional. That also includes the forum, of course, as you said. The interactions of Nacy with the rest of the people were fascinating for me to read, and I am not a Mental Health professional.

I think that each one's opinion comes from their own experience in the game, which leads to their own personal fears and absolute mistrust issues, or the complete opposite in other cases.

I don't really consider Second Life to be either safer or more dangerous than Real Life. Many times, looking at someone in the eyes while they talk to us does not guarantee that they are honest or that we will be able to detect any deceit. We get conned in Real Life when we trust the wrong person, as much as in Second Life. Predators are everywhere: in SL, in WOW, in Facebook, in our local church, in a school, in the universities, at the office... everywhere. We can be easy or not-so-easy targets in whichever life we are living. In fact, in SL there are, just as in RL, good people who harm us with the best of intentions, and bad people who harm us just because they can. I know also several stories about Real Life psychologists who gave a wrong diagnosis/treatment or the wrong advice, causing damage to somebody’s life. Bad professionals and false professionals are (sadly) not exclusive of SL.

About the potential "victims" (so to speak) of this damage, I also know people who share too much information in RL the very first time they meet you. The SL avatars are run by people. If you are a reserved person, it is possible that you won’t share much (if any) of your RL on SL. On the contrary, others might want to tell everybody details of their lives and consider the first stranger who talks to them as a longtime friend, both in RL and SL. It comes with the personality of the one running the avatar.

As everything in life, SL can be both beneficial and harmful to certain people. For some, it can be wonderful therapy, like painting or dancing or going to a support group. For others, it can be the source of problems, like (RL) social isolation, divorce, addiction to the game or being the victim of bullies and predators. For others, simply a fun game. We human beings are NOT all the same, this is no news to anybody. What is medicine for one can be poison to the next.

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