A virtual therapeutic environment with user projective agents

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Today, we see the Internet as more than just an information infrastructure, but a socializing place and a safe outlet of inner feelings. Many personalities develop aside from real world life due to its anonymous environment. Virtual world interactions are bringing about new psychological illnesses ranging from netaddiction to technostress, as well as online personality disorders and conflicts in multiple identities that exist in the virtual world. Presently, there are no standard therapy models for the virtual environment. There are very few therapeutic environments, or tools especially made for virtual therapeutic environments. The goal of our research is to provide the therapy model and middleware tools for psychologists to use in virtual therapeutic environments. We propose the Cyber Therapy Model, and Projective Agents, a tool used in the therapeutic environment. To evaluate the effectiveness of the tool, we created a prototype system, called the Virtual Group Counseling System, which is a therapeutic environment that allows the user to participate in group counseling through the eyes of their Projective Agent. Projective Agents inherit the user's personality traits. During the virtual group counseling, the user's Projective Agent interacts and collaborates to recover and increase their psychological growth. The prototype system provides a simulation environment where psychologists can adjust the parameters and customize their own simulation environment. The model and tool is a first attempt toward simulating online personalities that may exist only online, and provide data for observation.




Ookita, S. Y., & Tokuda, H. (2001). A virtual therapeutic environment with user projective agents. Cyberpsychology and Behavior, 4(1), 155–167. https://doi.org/10.1089/10949310151088550

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