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Avatar therapy for persecutory auditory hallucinations: What is it and how does it work?

Leff, J; Williams, G; Huckvale, M; Arbuthnot, M; Leff, AP; (2013) Avatar therapy for persecutory auditory hallucinations: What is it and how does it work? Psychosis , 6 (2) pp. 166-176. 10.1080/17522439.2013.773457. Green open access

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Abstract

We have developed a novel therapy based on a computer program, which enables the patient to create an avatar of the entity, human or non-human, which they believe is persecuting them. The therapist encourages the patient to enter into a dialogue with their avatar, and is able to use the program to change the avatar so that it comes under the patient's control over the course of six 30-min sessions and alters from being abusive to becoming friendly and supportive. The therapy was evaluated in a randomised controlled trial with a partial crossover design. One group went straight into the therapy arm: "immediate therapy". The other continued with standard clinical care for 7 weeks then crossed over into Avatar therapy: "delayed therapy". There was a significant reduction in the frequency and intensity of the voices and in their omnipotence and malevolence. Several individuals had a dramatic response, their voices ceasing completely after a few sessions of the therapy. The average effect size of the therapy was 0.8. We discuss the possible psychological mechanisms for the success of Avatar therapy and the implications for the origins of persecutory voices. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Type: Article
Title: Avatar therapy for persecutory auditory hallucinations: What is it and how does it work?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/17522439.2013.773457
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17522439.2013.773457
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Brain Repair and Rehabilitation
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS > Translation Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1387429
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