Mental health care in virtual worlds

An academic paper out of Italy and the Netherlands describes "immersive e-therapy," a hybrid therapy in clinical psychology that occurs in both virtual-world and physical-world settings. Authors Alessandra Gorini, Andrea Gaggioli, and Cinzia Vigna "suggest that, compared with conventional telehealth applications such as emails, chat, and videoconferences, the interaction between real and 3-D virtual worlds may convey greater feelings of presence, facilitate the clinical communication process, positively influence group processes and cohesiveness in group-based therapies, and foster higher levels of interpersonal trust between therapists and patients." They also look at "challenges related to the potentially addictive nature of such virtual worlds" and "questions related to privacy and personal safety."

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