VR Series for PTSD/CPTSD
I aim to create a VR 360º series for survivors of sexual assault and abuse to use at home. Each sequence will simulate a whimsical space for personal refuge, particularly for moments of high stress. Given the visual and thematic abstractness of this series, it could also easily suit the needs of people simply looking for low-cost, private ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
By providing these calming experiences––like entering a bubblewrap cloudscape or a world made of string lights and acrylic discs––users can immerse themselves in a dream-like space that directs their attention away from their anxieties towards something positive. Using VR 360º rather than pure animation grounds the experiences in a familiar materiality, allowing for a more tactile, immediate connection. These moments where users slow down and breathe differently can have a positive effect.
More on PTSD/CPTSD
Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) is a widespread problem. Unlike traditional PTSD, the disorder arises from traumatic events accumulated over a period of time rather than a single event.
While some VR projects have engaged traditional exposure therapy, my own series will rely on the theory of Somatic Experiencing. Rather than risk re-traumatizing people, Somatic Experiencing uses breathing, body awareness, and more unconscious associative connections to access and resolve symptoms.
The scaling of the experiences will vary, so that users can select what feels most comfortable for them. Some scenes will take place in miniatures sets while others will take up an entire room. Some may give the impression of being tucked away somewhere small (think: snow globe) while others may make the user feel like they’re taller than a redwood. In all cases, a strong sense of play will be integral to the final scaling.
I plan to create 2 audio modes: instrumental music and a wordless guided mode. In the guided mode, the light and sound will gently increase and decrease to signal when users should inhale and exhale. There will also be an optional timing element where users can choose between 1-, 2-, 5-, 10-minute intervals. A soft sound will emit when the user’s desired amount of time has passed.
Ideally, I would complete the project in collaboration with medical and psychology researchers. Preliminarily, I’ve tapped in spatial sound specialist/performance artist Tim Bishop (UK) and composer/pianist/vocalist Courtney Kie Swain (US/Japan). Director Robert Connor of Robert&Robert Studios (SE) will provide assistance and support.