Virtual reality for narrative therapy

Contemporary mental health challenges could be met by technological solutions. Therapeutic methods for treatment of psychological trauma could use a technological medium that is ultimately narrative, such as the virtual reality (VR), to retell personal stories in a beneficial way. Thus, existing therapy options could be complemented with the employment of storytelling VR, together with philosophical theories about the narrative nature of human mind, in order to fight trauma and develop the self while visualizing one's line of life.

In her recent article published in Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Iva Georgieva presents a virtual reality (VR) storytelling framework in which prior life experiences are reconstructed in virtual reality so that a person is provided with an opportunity to experience adverse life events in new ways. In normal everyday life, a person's self-narrative is constructed from past life experiences into a "line of life," which allows the person to maintain a sense of self-identity and constitutes a vision of oneself for the future. However, hurtful events like trauma can lead to "breaks" in this line, which can damage the person's ability to have a healthy sense of self and vision for the future. In such traumatic cases, the proposed VR application empowers a person to take control of the narrative of past life experiences and develop healthier means of integrating these experiences. Through this, the person could construct new self-narratives that restore a healthy vision of self for the future. Based on the aforementioned theoretical framework, a set of design requirements were identified for the developement of the proposed VR system. Its overall theoretical construct lies in the philosophical concept of the narrative self-identity, its modification in the virtual spaces, and the ways to address trauma through storytelling and cognitive restructuring means that are realized in visually rich medium such as virtual reality.