After being named regional winners, we have now been awarded the Grand Prize in Comcast's I4E competition. We are so thankful for all the support we have received. Please come and help us celebrate on June 22, when we will be holding an open house, during which we will be demonstrating our VR systems and software. We will also have food and beverages, so feel free to bring the whole family.
We've won the regional portion of the competition, and with your help we can win at the national level. Please go to http://cbcommunity.comcast.com/i4e/vote and vote for VR Therapy and Counseling Center. We are in the "startups" section (if you're on your phone, you have to scroll down and select the startups section) and all you have to do is enter your email and hit the button. You can vote once per day until May 13th, so any help would be greatly appreciated.
You can read about the new system we've been building at that link, but here it is, as well:
Our technology vision is to build a “behavioral rehearsal system,” which will allow us to help a wide range of individuals in our community. The system will use virtual reality, along with facial and full-body motion tracking, which will allow our therapists to precisely control characters within the virtual environments we create. For instance, if a teen is having difficulty in school settings, we will be able to place him or her in a virtual school setting where he or she will be able to learn more effective interpersonal skills, with our therapists taking on the roles of other children, teachers, etc. The system will use voice modulation, along with the motion tracking, in such a way that any therapist will be able to control any character within the simulation in real time, mapping all movement and communication in a way that matches the specific character being controlled. For instance, if a female teenager were having difficulties interacting with her peers, our therapists will be able to take on the role of any other teenagers in the simulation, regardless of age, sex, and physical characteristics. In the past, therapists have had to resign themselves to conducting “roleplay” sessions in their offices, but with this technology, our therapists will be able to do what was previously impossible: place individuals in the exact settings they are having difficulties with and then present them with controlled interactions that will help them overcome their challenges.
UploadVR, a national VR news site, recently published and article about our efforts here at VR Therapy. They did a good job of explaining some of the challenges we face, as well as the new problems we are working on solving here every day. Check it out: http://uploadvr.com/phobias-vr/
Our licensed therapists work with individuals using our virtual reality system to help them gradually overcome their fears.
We accept most forms of insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare. Call today to set up an appointment: 616-988-9049
This month, VR Therapy and Counseling Center welcomes child and adolescent trauma specialist Austin R. Gonzalez, LMSW. After earning her Master of Social Work degree from Grand Valley State University, Austin's passion for helping young people through their challenges was cultivated and refined during her years of working as a family therapist in the Grand Rapids area. She is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), an effective, evidence-based approach for treating children and adolescents who have experienced trauma. With her dedication to working with children and their families, VR Therapy is pleased to offer these new services to our community.
In our ongoing effort to provide service to anyone and everyone in our community who is seeking help, we are now official Medicare providers.
When individuals experience or witness violence, the nervous system initiates a fight-or-flight response to prepare them to deal with a potentially dangerous situation. Unfortunately, after the threat is gone, this same response can occur when the individuals experience memories of the traumatic event. There is no personality type that is more susceptible to this type of response (e.g., even highly trained combat veterans can experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)), so there is no way to predict who will or will not experience post-traumatic stress symptoms that end up interfering with their lives.
It is a natural response to try to block unpleasant memories; in the case of traumatic memories, unfortunately, this very effort to avoid the memories can end up giving them an unwanted foothold in a person’s life, causing the memories to become more intrusive and disruptive the more they are avoided. This often takes the form of flashbacks and/or nightmares that cause the individual to feel as though he or she is once again experiencing the original trauma—and the nervous system ends up reacting much in the same way it did when the trauma occurred. In turn, this re-traumatization can end up creating a long-term cycle that causes PTSD to persist for many years.
This is why most evidence-based approaches to trauma contain an exposure element that can help individuals with the emotional processing necessary to gain mastery over their traumatic memories in order to break the cycle. Therapists have traditionally had to rely on two types of exposure: imaginal, with individuals calling up their memories in therapy, and “in vivo,” which is real-life exposure, often provided in the form of homework requiring a person to expose themselves to situations, environments, or objects that may be acting as traumatic reminders and/or triggers. At VR Therapy and Counseling there is no need for this type of homework because we are able to create all of these things in the safety and comfort of our facilities, all while we are there to help people as they work through their challenges.
Please feel free to call us with any questions about this process, or to set up a free consultation to learn more about our services. You may reach us by phone at 616-988-9049, email at email@example.com, or simply stop by our building at 1618 Leonard St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505. Our website, www.vrtherapy.org, also has several sections to help you find more information about our services.
We are pleased to announce that all veterans without private insurance are eligible to receive our services at no cost in 2015. If you know of anyone who may have previously been reluctant to seek mental health treatment because of limited options, or perhaps someone who had limited success with therapy in the past, please let them know about VR Therapy and how we can help them. Please check out the "how we can help you" section of our website to learn more.
We've added content to our website and reorganized things so that those looking for help will now be able to learn more about our services and what they can expect when they start working with us. Please let us know if you would like to see any other information on the website. Also, we're always more than happy to answer any questions you may have and to provide any information you are looking for.
When using virtual reality (VR) to treat anxiety, trauma, or fear, it is important to address the unique circumstances and needs of every individual. Specific environmental triggers need to be identified for each person, while the therapist also learns about the history, context, beliefs, and thoughts that shape the realities of the people they are helping. As individuals work at a guided, yet self-determined, pace through the virtual environments, they are able to gradually overcome, and eventually master, the difficulties they are facing in the areas of their lives they have sought help with.
At VR Therapy, we use an open, constantly evolving VR system that is capable of recreating the sights, sounds, scents, and feelings needed to address the unique challenges faced by each person we work with. Additionally, we continually review current peer-reviewed research in an effort to stay abreast of the latest evidence-based approaches to treatment in all the areas we work with. As we begin our work here at VR Therapy, we are committed to helping any individual or family who is seeking help in our community.