Session: Virtual Reality Interventions for Addressing Family and Community Violence (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

33 Virtual Reality Interventions for Addressing Family and Community Violence

Thursday, January 17, 2019: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Golden Gate 4, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Mental Health (MH)
Symposium Organizer:
Mark Trahan, PhD, Southwest Texas State University
Erica Nason, PhD, Southwest Texas State University
Virtual reality technology is an emerging field that clinical researchers are increasingly using to understand and treat mental health symptoms. This technology can allow researchers to study variables that are not feasibly measured (e.g. biometric data) or are too complex to implement (e.g. training of responses for providers in potentially dangerous situations) in real world settings. Despite the wide range of clinical applications for virtual reality protocols, there remains a paucity of research utilizing these methodologies or examining the effects of incorporating virtual simulations into mental health treatments. The goal of this symposium is to present recent findings from a series of studies demonstrating a range of potential clinical applications of virtual reality technology, ranging from the treatment of anxiety or substance use disorders in the context of exposure based treatment modalities to the use of virtual environments to provide training opportunities for practitioners. Additionally, this symposium will address methodological limitations and recommendations.

Findings from three recent studies using innovative approaches to studying clinically relevant topics using virtual reality technology will be presented in this symposium. First, findings from a meta-analytic study examining the potential utility of incorporating virtual simulations that induce cravings into treatment for nicotine cessation will be presented. Despite a number of limitations associated with the studies eligible for inclusion in the meta-analysis (e.g. small sample size), virtual reality technology appears to be a promising avenue that may enhance existing treatments for substance use disorders (Smith, Trahan, Maynard, Khoo, & Farina). Second, a recent prototyping study assessed the extent to which exposure to virtual reality environments are related to physiological and self-report measures of anxiety among combat veterans with social anxiety disorder. The findings of this study indicated that virtual environments may be used to enhance exposure based treatments for disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder (Metsis, Lawrence, Trahan, Smith, & Tamir). The final presentation will discuss training implications using data from a recent study that examined the feasibility and acceptability of virtual reality to train social work students to perform home visits (McDonald & Davis). The implications of these studies will be discussed along with future recommendations for clinicians and researchers.

* noted as presenting author
Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for the Treatment of Alcohol and Nicotine Dependence
Scott Smith, PhD, Southwest Texas State University; Mark Trahan, PhD, Southwest Texas State University; Brandy Maynard, PhD, Saint Louis University; Yit Mui Khoo, MPPA, MSW, LCSW, Saint Louis University; Anne Farina, MSW, Saint Louis University
Virtual Reality Environments for Returning Combat Veteran Social Anxiety and PTSD: Rapid Prototyping Methodologies for Intervention
Vangelis Metsis, PhD, Texas State University; Grayson Lawrence, PhD, Southwest Texas State University; Mark Trahan, PhD, Southwest Texas State University; Scott Smith, PhD, Southwest Texas State University; Dan Tamir, PhD, Southwest Texas State University
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