Idea Overview:
All of us carry an inner child inside of us that is wounded to some degree. This massively affects our happiness and success in life. We can heal this inner child by acting as a loving parent towards it, but this is a difficult process. We can make it easier by making it more concrete and tangible. We will allow the user to create an avatar of their childhood self in virtual reality, which they can then talk to in a soothing and comforting way. This will make the healing process faster and easier.
Who might use it/where it might be used?:
The hypothetical tool would be used by people undergoing talking therapy. It would most likely be used in their home using a rented virtual reality headset, but it can also be used in the workspace of the therapist, using a headset owned by the therapist. Of course, if the person undergoing therapy happens to own a headset then they can use their own.
The Market (B2B, B2C or Both):
Sector the idea belongs to:
Is there a similar idea to be found?:
I've found a company (https://ameliavirtualcare.com/) offering a suite of virtual reality tools for psychotherapists, although I can't see any tool for inner child soothing. UCL researched the idea round 2014 (https://www.independent.co.uk/tech/virtual-reality-selfhelp-is-this-my-inner-child-that-i-see-before-me-weeping-9862404.html). An undergraduate called Amanda Koh investigated it at Imperial in 2018 (https://andikoh.com/vr-therapy/). Researchers at Imperial proposed a solution in 2017 (http://humandevelopment.doc.ic.ac.uk/papers/aisb-2017.pdf) but I haven't been able to find their follow up work yet. In 2018 a software house built a tool which uses an avatar of an inner child to help cure phobias (https://www.techradar.com/news/how-my-child-avatar-and-a-htc-vive-helped-me-face-my-fear-of-heights). It wasn't targeted at the same problem as us.
Why you think there is a demand for your idea?:
This is a tool that I want to use myself. I am in psychotherapy myself, and find inner child work (whereby I act as a loving parent to an imaginary child version of myself) very helpful. However, I have limited visualisation ability. I think in terms of abstract concepts rather than pictures. I know that a VR avatar of my younger self will make this work far easier. Many other people are in psychotherapy, and among them a large proportion will do inner child work. They should benefit from a VR tool such as I describe.
Who would be the ideal customers?:
People with weak visualising ability that are doing inner child work during psychotherapy. They may be well educated, work in tech, and be male. They may be enthusiastic gamers, or early adopters of new technology.
What ideas do you have to reach these customers?:
I think the best way to reach the end users would be via psychotherapists, who can recommend the tool to the users. I'm not sure exactly how to reach psychotherapists, although I had a long therapist/client relationship with a very entrepreneurially-minded psychotherapist. I hope to get ideas from him, and am reaching out.
How far have you developed this idea?:
It's only an idea. I've had a look at the work that's been done in the field so far, and at the tools available for prototyping in VR.
What – if any – feedback have you had for this idea so far?:
People are surprised by the idea, as if it's one that they haven't heard before, and seem to think it's a good and interesting idea.
What supporting material – if any - would you like to add to your proposal?:
I've nothing yet, beyond the links I included on the previous page.

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6 comments to “Virtual Reality for Inner Child Healing”

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  1. Donna Beattie - December 17, 2022 at 9:12 am

    Interesting ? do you feel this could be something that can be used in schools to show kids of certain settings of reality and situations and see what they would do in some virtual situations to maybe help them with reality of life’s paths and finding their own balance avoiding entering a broken painful long periods of life with another’s enterty who’s low vibing soul sucking energy seeks to destroy.
    ? I believe theirs something that could work here if one is on self healing and learning journey. Will it show that the data collected from each session where ones passed a certain level and achieve growth and learnt lesson to thrive to ones best version of ones balanced self? Loads can work with this but when one takes the virtual headset off will they adapt it to reality is life a game? I don’t know we’re all creatives if it helps with learning and teaching without causing harm to one and another.

    • Colm Ginty - December 18, 2022 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Donna! Regarding the first point, I think it could be useful and I’d be interested to learn the thoughts of a qualified psychologist and/or psychotherapist. Regarding data collection, I haven’t thought that far ahead yet πŸ™‚ But, agreed, I think virtual reality may be applicable to many areas of psychotherapy! Apart from inner child work, a lot of other areas of psychotherapy involve visualising things (e.g. a more realistic version of your life story). A VR headset should just make this visualisation more powerful, with the tradeoff of much less flexibility.

  2. Donna Beattie - December 19, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    Iam very curious good luck with this ✨?✨

  3. Simon Krystman - December 21, 2022 at 12:02 pm

    I wonder if it’s worth approaching hospital psychiatric departments or the Royal College of Psychiatrists where you might be able to get to practitioners at scale to find out their interest in the idea?

    • Colm Ginty - December 21, 2022 at 12:35 pm

      That’s a great idea. Before then, I think I need to do a survey of the existing academic research. Hopefully I can present practitioners with strong evidence that VR actually helps in cases like this. Or it may be that the research shows that it doesn’t help at all!