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Experiencing avatar therapy

This blog is one PPI consultant's account of their experience of having avatar therapy.

I am a member of the South London PPI team and I was a participant lucky enough to have the therapy in the first trial. I think Avatar therapy is a revolutionary form of therapy which helps people who hear distressing voices to stand up to them in a non-aggressive way. With the PPI Group, I am looking forward to discussing ways in which we can all help the therapy evolve so it can benefit many other people who hear distressing voices.

In this blog, I would like to share a little bit of my experience with you. Before I had the therapy I was hearing up to twenty distressing voices a day. Since then, the distressing voices have reduced to around 4 or 5 a day, and I feel I have regained some control.

So what's it like to have AVATAR Therapy?

I must confess, I found the Avatar therapy an extraordinary process - one which would help shape my future relationship with the voice I hear in my head.

When I first started the therapy, I did not know what to expect. I remember being led to a computer by a therapist and asked to create a computerised image of the voice I heard. I found that difficult at first as I had never seen my voice. I was shown some images of different faces on a computer screen and I selected one which I thought best represented my voice. Next came identifying a voice which sounded similar to the voice I heard in my head. I was then connected to a microphone on the computer and told to look at the screen: there was a camera on top of the computer so the therapist could keep an eye on me from another room. The therapist then went to the other room where he would repeat what the voice says on a daily basis and these words would be said through the Avatar.

I was a bundle of nerves when I heard the Avatar speak for the first time but, as each session went by, I slowly grew in confidence and was able to stand up to the Avatar in a non-aggressive way and the therapy really helped me get back some control over my voice.

In AVATAR2 we are taking the therapy forwards to explore who it can be helpful for, and what aspects of the therapy are most effective at reducing distress associated with voices.

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