Practicing mindfulness using virtual reality simulations of potentially stressful daily activities: an innovative approach to the treatment of first episode psychosis

Poster C45, Wednesday, October 10, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Tin Ngo-Minh1,3,4, Claudie Loranger2, Catherine Brisebois2, Stéphane Bouchard2, Ian Vachon2, Tin Ngo-Minh; 1University of Ottawa, 2Université du Québec en Outaouais, 3University McGill, 4Centre de Recherche du CISSS Outaouais

The main therapeutic applications of virtual reality (VR) for people presenting psychotic features focus on social skills training, AVATAR therapy or cognitive behavior therapy combined with VR that facilitates cognitive restructuring, exposure or cognitive training. The possibilities of VR are multiple and other applications deserve considerations. One example is mindfulness-based interventions, which shows growing interest and support. Objective: The long term goal of this research is to propose a treatment program that would allow people presenting first episodes of psychosis to practice mindfulness skills in virtual environments depicting progressively challenging day to day activities and stressors. The aim of the current project is to assess the acceptability and feasibility of a few sessions combining mindfulness-based interventions for schizophrenia and immersions in VR. For this poster, we will present the treatment manual and results from our pilot patients. Method: The sample consist of five participants suffering from schizophrenia recruited from a first episode psychosis clinic. The mindfulness-based intervention program proposes five 60-minute sessions. Participants are invited to practice mindfulness skills in a virtual restaurant depicting everyday life situations that can be challenging for patients suffering from psychosis. The therapist: (a) coaches and supports the participants in learning the skills before the immersion, (b) helps the patient through guided-mastery techniques to apply the skills in progressively challenging VR immersions, (c) provides post-immersions feedback to improve patient’s awareness of the situation and how to apply the skills, and (d) facilitates generalisation through examples of how to apply the skills between sessions.

Topic Area: Psychosocial Interventions

Back to Poster Schedule