Examining the potential of virtual reality to deliver remote rehabilitation
2019 Elsevier Ltd Remote workers are particularly prone to mental health problems (Bowers et al., 2018). Unfortunately, it is often difficult for them to access the quality psychological help that they need. As a result, psychological treatment is increasingly being delivered to remote workers via telehealth (videoconferencing and telephone calls). However, the perceived remoteness of the therapist during such treatments can greatly hinder progress. This project examined the potential of virtual reality (VR) to deliver psychotherapy to workers located in remote locations (since it can make people separated by great distances feel that they are "present" in the same virtual space). The study compared the experiences of 30 'clients' who participated in both VR and Skype-based mock counselling sessions (delivered by trained psychotherapists). Overall, VR was found to outperform Skype: 1) as a therapeutic tool, 2) in terms of the perceived realism of the session; and 3), in terms of the degree of presence it generated in the clients and the therapists. Clients did not report feeling sick or stressed when using VR and found it as easy to use as Skype. These study findings (based on formal questionnaire data) were also confirmed by interviews with both the therapists and clients.