Avatar Therapy

Avatar Therapy is a new approach to the treatment of certain mental health conditions, particularly auditory hallucinations (hearing voices). The therapy was invented by Prof. Julian Leff to improve the lives of schizophrenic patients suffering from persecutory voice hallucinations despite the best available drug treatment. In Avatar Therapy, computer avatars are designed by patients to give a face to the voices they hear; these avatars then interact with the patient in a simulation of their persecutory voice. Under direction from therapists, patients are encouraged to challenge the voice and allow it to come gradually under the patient's control.

Current state of Avatar Therapy

You can read details about the science of Avatar Therapy and obtain references to published articles at the Avatar Therapy Project website.

The first randomised clinical trial of Avatar Therapy was run by the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London funded by the Wellcome Trust. This trial involved 150 patients with persecutory voices divided between two therapy approaches. The results of this trial were published in the The Lancet Psychiatry. A summary of the outcomes of the study can be found in this UCL Press Release. A short video about the Avatar Therapy trial can be seen in this BBC News report.

A new clinical trial will be starting later in 2020 and will involve four major clinical centres across the UK. More details will be published here as they become available.

This new trial will use the UCL Avatar Therapy software system. This is software that facilitates the provision of Avatar Therapy by managing the process of avatar enrolment and the running of therapy sessions. This software will become available as a CE-marked Class 1 medical device approved for clinical use. More details of the system ....

Training courses for clinicians wishing to use Avatar Therapy with patients are currently under development.

Who to contact for more information

  • If you are interested in finding out about the future clinical availability of Avatar Therapy, please contact Prof. Tom Craig at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London. thomas.craig@kcl.ac.uk
  • If you are interested in how the Avatar Therapy software system works or what hardware would be required to run the system, please contact Prof. Mark Huckvale at the Department of Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences, University College London: m.huckvale@ucl.ac.uk
  • If you are a clinician interested in obtaining a licence to evaluate the software system, please contact Derek Reay at UCL Business: d.reay@uclb.com.
  • If you are a clinician interested in attending a training course on how Avatar Therapy can be used with patients, please contact Prof. Alex Leff at Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London: a.leff@ucl.ac.uk

© 2020 Avatar Therapy Ltd. Last modified 17:02 09-Feb-2020. by Mark Huckvale