Friday, May 21, 2010

Avatar Helps With Military-Related PTSD

The May 17th article "Avatar Teaches Social Workers How to Talk With Iraq and Afghanistan Vets" by Lydia Dishman describes how avatars are being used to help treat PTSD. The article begins:

Lieutenant Rocco’s recently returned from deployment in Iraq and he’s having trouble acclimating. He sits near the edge of a sofa in his social worker’s office, still dressed in fatigues, and sporting a buzz cut.

Even though he says he’s okay, he admits to getting flack from his boss about his lack of productivity and that he’s arguing with his wife. "There are things I don’t want to talk about with her. Things I can’t get out of my head," he says.

The more you listen in on Lieutenant Rocco’s session, the easier it becomes to forget the slightly odd cadences of his speech and the blocky outlines of his clothing which point out that the Lieutenant isn’t a real person.

He’s a digital avatar designed to be a training tool as part of University of Southern California School of Social Work’s curriculum for the Master of Social Work degree with a Sub-concentration in Military Social Work. A virtual patient like Lieutenant Rocco teaches prospective counselors how to deal with soldiers returning from duty where they may have witnessed life-altering atrocities.

Read the entire Fast Company article now. Then read about the upcoming PTSD Walk Across America to raise awareness of and funds for active-duty military personnel and veterans with PTSD.

And check out the first endorsement for the PTSD-related documentary "Striking a Chord."

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION. Her newest project is' company does power marketing that combines traditional marketing principles and Internet marketing strategies to put power in your hands.

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