Virtual change therapy

Recent studies show that the virtual you, as in an avatar you create, can influence the real you in terms of health, appearance, how you view a virtual environment, and perhaps your weight. There’s even hope that people can develop empathy and compassion using an avatar. The idea is that your brain is influenced by the changes you make to the virtual you. The results obtained so far from research suggests that people identify with an avatar when they are able to customize it as they wish. They see their virtual selves on personal terms, feeling as though they are connected. Could it be that the act of making physical alterations links individuals to the picture of themselves they generate? If so, the future of creating change via visualization may be thought of differently and built upon.

We know that using your imagination to see yourself as you want using pictures in your mind’s eye can be therapeutic, aiding behavior change and the way people think. It’s also possible to use mind movies, developing a movie of the changes you want to take place to watch on screen. When you do so, you are physically involved in the process, just as you are when adjusting an avatar. But maybe the concept could be taken a step or two further. People might find that gradually photoshopping a picture of themselves over time alters their self-perception, or that practicing putting their avatar in different social situations changes their confidence in real life.

Eventually, we might see avatar apps popping up called “Change Me” or “Pimp My Persona.” They could offer people the chance to guide their own therapy in the comfort of home, thus providing the self-esteem that comes from being in charge of their destiny.

More research needs to be carried out to see whether such ideas are valuable, but meanwhile, there’s nothing to stop you experimenting. If you want to bring about change in your behavior, let’s say giving up a bad habit, you could draw a picture of yourself acting favorably, replacing an old behavior with the positive new behaviour you desire. The action of drawing yourself could help you connect with the image of you on paper. Alternatively, you could experiment with an avatar, photograph, mind movie, or using any other means involving physical and visual aspects relating to change. The key to success is likely to be how much you identify with the ‘virtual you’ created. Therefore, don’t forget to evoke your emotions and involve them in making alterations. No one can promise it will work, but, then again, it just might.


About bridget

bridget webber

Bridget Webber’s background rests in mental health, counselling, hypnotherapy, NLP and art. She brings knowledge from her experiences into her writing and specializes in emotional wellness and the creation of, rather than search for, joy. You can catch up with her insights and musings on Twitter.

Twitter: @InsightManager

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