The future of care through new technologies lands in Italy. It starts in virtual form in Milan, at the Piazzale Brescia headquarters of theItalian Auxological Institute, the 25th edition of the international congress of the international association of CyberPsychology and Cyber therapy. The world conference, initially scheduled in attendance, is held from today to Wednesday 15 after being postponed for a year due to the pandemic. And, given the circumstances, it is the right time to understand how new information technologies can be useful for preventing and treating in the presence but also remotely. Not only that, but given recent experiences, we will also talk about the psychological and social consequences, for example, of distance learning and smart working.
Over 200 researchers from 30 countries participate in the congress, which annually presents the results of international research. The conference will be opened by prof. Giuseppe Riva (in the photo), full professor of General Psychology at the Catholic University of Milan, president of the association of CyberPsicology and Cyber therapy and director at the Auxological Institute of the Applied Technology for Neuro-Psychology Lab with prof. Brenda K. Wiederhold, editor of the scientific journal “CyberPsychology, Behavior and Social Networking”.
“Cyberpsychology” is an emerging area of cognitive science that studies the impact of the use of technologies, particularly those associated with the acquisition and sharing of knowledge (psychotechnology), on our mind. We speak of psychotechnology to mean all technologies – the alphabet and writing, print media, telephone, radio, television, Internet and social media and so on – that emulate, extend or amplify the capacity of our mind to acquire , organize and communicate new knowledge. In general, every technology, when learned and used effectively, structures our cognitive processes in a new way. However, psychotechnologies differ from other technologies because in the long run they develop a new “state of mind”, which produces significant changes in the way people think and communicate. In other words, when we learn to use psychotechnologies, and they become part of our daily experience, their use changes the way we think, the perception of the world, and the way we act. The latest studies on the impact of social media on identity and social processes will be presented during the conference.
As underlined by a recent study published by the scientific journal of the association, the use of DaD affects the functioning of GPS neurons, mirror neurons, Von Economo neurons and intercerebral neural oscillations with a significant impact on many identity and cognitive processes. First, the use of videoconferencing systems generates the feeling of being “without place” which has a direct impact on our episodic memory, on our personal and professional identity and increases the risk of burn-out. Furthermore, the lack of intentional attunement and the difficulty in making intuitive decisions also have a strong impact on leadership and on all support and mentoring activities. Finally, the inability to use eye contact and the exchange of glances, the main tools used to generate joint attention, reduces group involvement, collective performance and creativity.
The term “cyber therapy” refers to the different forms of clinical evaluation and therapy that have the main intervention tool in the experiential use of new media. Cyber therapy was born in the United States in the late 1980s thanks to the interest and funding of the US Department of Defense. Under the coordination of DARPA, the government agency of the United States Department of Defense charged with developing new technologies for military use, numerous research centers have begun to use the technology to teach physicians complex motor skills such as those required by operations. surgical or emergency situations. Compared to telemedicine, which uses new technologies to provide remote health services, cyber therapy uses technology – in particular virtual reality and augmented reality – to replace or enhance the patient experience. It is therefore possible, for example, to allow the patient to see virtual food on a real table in order to help him manage his desire or create simulated environments in which to help the patient face his fears. Most of the latest applications of cyber therapy are based on virtual reality, a three-dimensional environment generated by the computer in which the subject or subjects interact with each other and with the environment as if they were really inside it. But what are the advantages of virtual reality?
“First of all, the therapist, be it psychologist or doctor, and the patient interact with each other”, explains prof. Giuseppe Riva, «and with the various virtual objects as if they were really with them. This allows you to learn through direct experience and in real time from the results of your actions. Secondly, it is possible to recreate complex environments and specific situations. This allows not only to learn a technique but also to experience emotions, such as fear and shame, and to learn to control them with the help of a clinician ». Thanks to the clinical work carried out by some Scientific Hospitalization and Care Institutes and to the research work carried out by some universities – Catholic University, University of Genoa and University of Padua – Italy plays a central role at European level in the field of cyber therapy. The application areas mainly concern clinical psychology and rehabilitation, cognitive and motor skills. During the conference, the latest clinical trials will be presented that show the effectiveness of virtual reality as a clinical treatment tool.Coronavirus is not only a global health emergency but also a strong psychological stress that puts a strain on our identity and our relations. However, virtual reality can give us a hand through COVID Feel Good, a free virtual experience that can be used on your mobile phone, lasting a week, created by researchers from the Italian Auxological Institute in collaboration with the Catholic University, the Become-Hub company. and a number of international universities. The use of a virtual experience – The Secret Garden, which simulates a visit to a Zen garden of which the user is the only visitor – is associated with a series of exercises that allow you to reflect on your identity and interpersonal relationships. As demonstrated by a recent scientific study, this experience is able to significantly reduce the levels of anxiety and depression generated by the situation of uncertainty generated by the pandemic. “Up to now, one of the main problems for the spread of cyber therapy was the costs”, explains prof. Giuseppe Riva. «Today, however, thanks to the spread of virtual reality helmets for video games – such as the Oculus Quest or the Oculus Rift – the purchase of an immersive virtual reality system is within everyone’s reach. In conclusion, today technology is already an integral part of the professional activity of the doctor and psychologist: we use it to write, communicate, memorize and evaluate. Thanks to virtual reality it could also become the tool to offer a modality