A Therapy System for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Using a Virtual Agent and Virtual Storytelling to Reconstruct Traumatic Memories

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Abstract

Although post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is well treatable, many people do not get the desired treatment due to barriers to care (such as stigma and cost). This paper presents a system that bridges this gap by enabling patients to follow therapy at home. A therapist is only involved remotely, to monitor progress and serve as a safety net. With this system, patients can recollect their memories in a digital diary and recreate them in a 3D WorldBuilder. Throughout the therapy, a virtual agent is present to inform and guide patients through the sessions, employing an ontology-based question module for recollecting traumatic memories to further elicit a detailed memory recollection. In a usability study with former PTSD patients (n = 4), these questions were found useful for memory recollection. Moreover, the usability of the whole system was rated positively. This system has the potential to be a valuable addition to the spectrum of PTSD treatments, offering a novel type of home therapy assisted by a virtual agent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41:125
JournalJournal of Medical Systems
Volume41
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Conversational agent
  • E-health
  • Mental health
  • Ontology
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Question system
  • Relational agent
  • Therapy system
  • Virtual agent
  • Virtual reality

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