VRAPT: VR aggression prevention training
The effects of aggression training in clinics are limited. This is mainly because it is impossible to offer patients a realistic surrounding to practice exciting and/or aggressive situations. VR may offer a solution to this limitation. VR gives patients the opportunity to practice these situations, in a realistic virtual environment.
In VRAPT forensic inpatients practice with provocative scenarios. A large part of the training consists of virtual role plays. By using 3D glasses, the patient will see a virtual person, an avatar. The therapist is talking into a microphone, via the avatar with the patient in the virtual environment. The patient wears headphones and hears the transformed voice of the trainer through headphones and sees the avatars’ mouth move.
For example, how do you react when someone cuts the line the super market? Or if the security guard of the pub does not want to let you in again while your coat is still inside? Through these interactive social scenarios patients have the opportunity to learn how to deal with aggression and impulses in an adequate manner.
Interactive scenarios can be played in a virtual shopping street, a supermarket or a bar. Furthermore, the avatar can be a man or woman, and skin color can vary. The virtual environment can be regulated by letting more or less avatars walk around. Because the therapist can control both the avatar and the virtual environment, patients can practice with more realistic prevocational situations.
VRAPT was developed by the UMCG and University of Groningen in cooperation with Tilburg University, TU Delft and CleVR. In March 2017 the multicenter randomized controlled study started, in which we aimed to study the effectivity of VRAPT. We included 128 patients from four Dutch forensic psychiatric centers. Half of them were placed on a waiting list and the other half will recieve VRAPT. Patients participated in 16 VRAPT sessions of 60 minutes over a period of eight weeks.
Klein Tuente S, Bogaerts S, Bulten E, Keulen-de Vos M, de Vos M, Bokern H, van IJzendoorn S, Geraets CNW, Veling W. Virtual Reality aggression prevention therapy (VRAPT) versus waiting list control for forensic psychiatric inpatients: a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2020. [link]
Klein Tuente S, Bogaerts S, IJzendoorn S van, Veling W. Effect of virtual reality aggression prevention training for forensic psychiatric patients (VRAPT): study protocol of a multi-center RCT. BMC Psychiatry; 2018. [link]