Is virtual reality therapy for psychiatric and/or emotional issues, such as phobias, a continuing health trend in Sacramento and the Bay Area? In the Marin County area of California, (San Rafael) the Kaiser-Permanente HMO Medical Group back in 1994 developed a trial system which evaluates the use of virtual reality in the treatment of patients with a fear of heights.
In a ground-breaking study, headed by Dr. Ralph Lamson, "Virtual Therapy" was shown to aid over 90 percent of participants to reach self-assigned treatment goals, such as walking over a narrow plank and crossing a suspension bridge spanning a deep gorge, according to the June 11, 1994 article by Alison Goddard, "Virtual Therapy Reaches New Heights."
Dr. Lamson used Division's virtual environment authoring software, PROVISION 100, to design a study to determine the effects of immersing individuals into a computer generated virtual environment in which they encounter the perception of depth and height. dVISE, Division, Inc.'s (Redwood, CA) virtual environment software was used to develop a virtual world with a cafe, an elevated patio, and a plank leading from the patio to a bridge.
Surrounding hills and water filled out the scene. Surfaces were given realistic textures, lighting, and shading. Clients immersed in the believable environment moved through the scene, looking in all directions, exploring as they would in the real world. They walked to the edge of the plank and bridge as they looked below.
Virtual reality is used for treating phobias. According to Dr. Lamson, virtual architecture has clear advantages for helping those with environmental fears. Also see the article, "Clinical Application of Virtual Therapy to Psychiatric Disorders," by Ralph J. Lamson, PhD, and Mark Meisner, M.D. Dept. of Psychiatry, Kaiser-Permanente Medical Group, Inc., San Rafael, CA.
"Virtual Therapy gives the individual an opportunity to approach the object they fear in a virtual environment," Lamson explained, according to a news release. "Being immersed in a virtual, feared situation is very close to reality. After the virtual therapy, participants feel as if they already have had a success in overcoming their fear. This is a strong confidence builder."
After encountering virtual heights and depths, participants faced two real-world goals such as driving across a bridge and riding a glass-enclosed elevator while viewing the surroundings. Followup studies are scheduled. For some, the only personal space they control is inside their purses. Also check out the article, "Virtual Reality and Psychotherapy."
How many people in Sacramento use holistic interactive multimedia scriptwriting therapy to create their life story by thinking in three dimensions? Do you think in three dimension and creating branching alternative pathways as a holistic health therapy? Do you use interactive multimedia therapy in your holistic health practice?
Creative writing therapy using interactive multimedia measures emotive writing from the inner self and analyzes feelings, then measures the range of change or growth in a script. The trained creative writing therapist, much like the trained poetry therapist, serves as partner with the attending psychotherapist in a program to help a client, especially a survivor of abuse, trauma, spouse battering, incest, or low-self esteem conditioning to measure his or her own range of change or growth from the beginning of the story or script to the end.
The acting psychotherapist in partner with the creative writing therapist gives periodical evaluations to determine the effectiveness of the procedures employed by the creative writing therapist using interactive multimedia. Who works with a creative writing therapist in the field of holistic family health?
Subjects attending an accredited facility for the treatment of mental disorders who until recently worked only with poetry therapists and their psychologists or counselors, now work with other expressive therapists. Universities offer graduate degrees and/or certification in the various expressive therapies: art therapy, drama therapy, dance therapy, music therapy, poetry therapy, or various expressive arts therapies.
Since the advent of interactive multimedia using entertainment as learning and learning as therapy, inner personal journaling has become popular as a means to self-growth and self-expression used in a therapeutic setting. Poetry therapy has been extended to bibliotherapy, and finally to creative writing and scriptwriting therapy--with or without interactive multimedia.
With interactive multimedia, the videobiography form can be used to place one's autobiography on videotape and then transfer the videotape scene to a computer disk. Once on the computer, the video can be accompanies by sound, music, written text, and animation, cartoons, photographs, illustrations, or other graphics by use of a scanner.
Classes in interactive multimedia have worked closely with creative writing departments so that autobiographical screenplays can be transferred to computers, to CD-ROM disks, or otherwise incorporated into desktop video and desktop publishing programs.
Creative writing therapy works well with holistic family health classes. Check out the book, Dreaming In Color, by Charlotte Vale Allen (Doubleday, NY, 1993) to be used to stimulate feelings and the desire to write in a lyrical manner about family dynamics. Creative writing therapy, with our without interactive multimedia, facilitates personal growth and self-development. It's an ideal tool to help people write about self-esteem and self-concept. It has its place among the expressive therapies.
What's a Holistic Family Health Creative Writing Therapist?
In 1977, a Federal Title, classification 601, was created for bibliotherapists to be hired. Poetry therapists undertook 440 hours of the study of poetry therapy became eligible for the newly created position, according to the The National Association for Poetry Therapy located presently at 7715 White Rim Terrace, Patomac, MD. 20854 (301) 299-8330. (Peggy Osna Heller, President,--as listed in the 1994 Encyclopedia of Associations.)
A quarterly is published by the Association for Poetry Therapy called the A.P.T. News. It's estimated that thousands of professionals use poetry therapy. The requirements for a "trainee in poetry therapy" include graduation from an accredited college with a degree in the humanities or behavioral sciences. Equivalent credit may be granted for combination of completed college courses and experience in a recognized institution.
There should be evidence of concentration in poetry covering the primitive, classical, post-renaissance, modern, and avante-garde writing. The trainee must be accepted into a mental health program as a volunteer or paid employee under professional supervision.
As a poetry therapist, you must not exaggerate your own importance in the therapeutic team. Certification allows you to put a C.P.T. (Certified Poetry Therapist) designation after your name.
Training programs in poetry therapy and bibliotherapy are offered through the National Association for Poetry Therapy and through other private schools. There are several poetry therapy institutes. The New School for Social Research in New York City offered training programs in poetry therapy and bibliotherapy.
One poetry therapist, Don Theye, has a motto: "Observe, absorb, create, share." A book, A Seminar on Bibliotherapy: Proceedings by Dr. Franklin M. Berry, a psychology professor, was offered by the Library School, University of Wisconsin, White Hall, 600 N. Park, Madison, WI, 53706.
For guidelines to poetry therapy and book lists, write: J.B. Lippincott, Co., East Washington Sq., Philadelphia, PA 19105. Of interest are the pioneer books written in the sixties and seventies, such as Poetry Therapy, by Dr. Jack J. Leedy (1969), and Poetry, the Healer, Dr. Jack J. Leedy (1973).
Using Interactive to Create Branching Narratives as Therapy
The purpose of using interactive multimedia fiction is to create branching narratives. The story has many branching middle parts, all converging on the same, successful, self-growth ending. The writer then measures the range of change that has occurred for a positive ending.
Some Sacramento creative writing therapists may choose to have clients use interactive fiction as therapy. The therapist has the client think of as many alternatives as possible in order to write the branching narratives. The reader or interactive multimedia partner/game player can choose as many alternative middles and endings as he or she wants, or choose the same ending with branching middle parts or narratives.
The writer must think in three dimensions to write interactive multimedia and use it therapeutically.
Poetry may be used, or may be illustrated with text, music, animation, or graphics. But the story does have many endings or middles that branch. That's the whole idea.
Choose one, choose many, play the computer game. It's your life story. When you've played the interactive multimedia computer game which I put either on disc or online, you can measure your growth and choose the branch that you prefer. Interactive multimedia fiction writing as therapy in holistic health can be used as is or turned into a computer game.
If a participant doesn't have a computer, interactive fiction can still be written as a master script with many branches, many middles, many endings, or the same ending. The reader can choose to be interactive merely by reading the book or story. You don't need a computer to choose alternative endings to a story. But this technique is at the heart of interactive broadcast cinema. This technique is part of "expressive therapy," and can be used by certified poetry or expressive arts therapists.
Dr. Jack J. Leedy wrote, "Poetry is simply a road to the unconscious." Leedy pioneered the field of poetry therapy. A psychiatrist at Brooklyn-Cumberland Medical Center, New York, and director of the Poetry Therapy Center, when his books were published in the sixties and seventies, Leedy stated, "When a patient writes his own poem or chooses one from a book, it's a way for him to express something he can't get out any other way."
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, "In Poetry, There Could Be Reason As Well As Rhyme," (March 13, 1975), Dr. Leedy is interested more in the person "getting the feeling out" than in rhythm, rhyme, or punctuation. Poetry therapists use rhyme as a part of the total treatment plan.
Dr. Leedy stated that poetry therapy "could be the crucial factor as other things start to fail." Leedy edited two books on poetry therapy as a healing agent. He used poetry as a diagnostic tool and as treatment. (For example, suicidal tendencies often become apparent in poems.)
Leedy told the Wall Street Journal in 1975, "Poetry can make a patient feel relaxed and relieve his tensions by being a safety valve for actual confrontation. We can look at peptic ulcers and other psychosomatic symptoms as simply poems struggling to be born."
Holistic family health therapists in Sacramento may also use creative writing therapy with multimedia, an offshoot of poetry therapy, focusing on the technique called "sensitivity searching." The holistic health therapists would be looking for sensitivity to come to the surface.
In the technique, the participant starts to write or tell a story, outline or write a short screenplay, write a chapter of a novel, or pen a poem, and let the individual finish the alternative, interactive, branching endings. Or a participant can start a poem and let the another person finish the alternate lines.
For example, if a participant receives his or her own spouse's poem or story, it lets the therapist know whether the person is measuring his/her own range of change or growth from the beginning of the story to the end.
The lines in a story or poem, or even in a videobiography or autobiography are keyed as the person used to be. Measuring the range of change allows the writer to choose an alternative branch and play the game (or read the story) and interact. The goal is to find out whether the person will write about how he or she is at present, will be in the future, or at the end of the story--when the character's growth or change can be measured.
The further the writer has to come or grow between the beginning and the story and the end is the emotional arc. The writer can plot that high arc. It's the range of change or growth of the lead character--the self. Do other characters also grow in the story?
Writing creatively as holistic health therapy forces a person to think and feel what all this means to that person. Creative writing therapy builds on creative feelings. Clients are called writers. They're writing life stories.
They can keep diaries, journals, write scripts, stories, plays, or novels, or even write and illustrate comic strips or transfer the pictures and text to computer disk and work with a programmer side by side to create a computer game of their life story with branches, or alternative endings or middle story parts.
How creative writing therapy works in holistic health practices is by using interactive multimedia or pen and paper, the writing reveals generations of abuse in families. It opens the subject of family dynamics for discussion, for using creative intuition with the five senses to create concrete stories.
Poems, stories, scripts, and games are analyzed, discussed, and examined. They're examined in the light of how the piece of creative writing or poem influences the person, how it makes one feel. The feel it, heal it approach is combined with the think it, analyze it method.
The point is not to analyze the creative writing to critique and evaluate it as a piece of writing, but to analyze how it affects the writer's own feelings. Writers may sit on pillows on the floor and write in a coffee house environment, or may collaborate with computer programmers and animators, video producers, or illustrators to go interactive multimedia when the script is finished.
The whole idea again, is to emphasize how the work of creativity affects the writer's feelings. The idea behind creative writing therapy is to search out how you feel and put it down in one media or another. It's optional to choose branch endings, branching narratives in the middle, or whether or not to make a computer game, novel, story, teleplay, video, radio play, or graphic novel-comic book, out of the script when finished.
Some people are happy with writing their feelings as a poem. Others want to write an entire life story or experience as a novel or computer game with many alternative choices. They want to create an interactive computer game on disk or CD-ROM laser disk. They want their text illustrated, and they want sound and action. Others want a videobiography on industrial quality video tape. For others, a radio play on audio tape from a script is preferred. Still others want to write a romance novel or suspense novel or story, essay, or novelette.
Participants sometimes choose to create a comic strip expressing their feelings and illustrating it with cartoons. Many wish to write about their relationships having no close ties. Isolation and abuse is a frequent theme.
Poetry therapy often works well with harried executives whose employers give them an hour or two free in the afternoon to take off their shoes in the corporate lounge and analyze how their writing influences their feelings on subjects from domestic violence caused by swing shift stress to trauma as a result of workplace violence or preventing workplace distress caused by personality type conflicts.
In 1975, the Wall Street Journal reported that Arthur Lerner, a psychology professor at Los Angeles City College, recommended that poets be in residence at large corporations. There's a place in the corporate world for the poetry therapist to show employees how to use poetry therapy in the workplace. Dr Jack Leedy wrote that he believed specific poems will be prescribed for certain ailments or problems. Poetry, and I believe all forms of creative writing, helps people learn how to make choices--decisions--when they use the writing experience to see how it effects their own feelings.
Does poetry writing therapy need two therapists?
In poetry therapy, an in creative writing therapy, sometimes there are two therapists: the poetry therapist and the supervising psychotherapist. A simulated family setting may be created to have two authority figures for balance.
With two authority figures, there are subtle psychological differences between the therapists. One will be seen as more aggressive and masculine, and the other as more protective and feminine. You may need the Yin-Yang, anima-animus, male-female, nurturing-logical balance with creative writing therapy. It's really not a good cop/bad cop skit you're playing in a psychodrama. What you want is to have the writer see the subtle psychological differences between the two authority figures and examine it by writing--to get the juices flowing, the writing unblocked.
In poetry therapy, the poems selected express feelings thought to be troubling member of the group. Dr. Menninger, the psychoanalyst, once wrote that, "Psychiatrists realize from clinical experience what poets have proclaimed in inspired verse, that to retreat permanently into the loneliness of one's own soul is to surrender one's claim upon life."
This same method is used for creative writing therapy in general--with stories, essays, novel chapters, or scripts. Copies of poems or stories chosen by therapists are distributed to group members. Short stories are short-shorts, less than 1,000 words. Poems are of average length. The poems or short stories are read and discussed. Shorter novel chapters also can be examined in this way. Later comes the writing of poetry or short stories or cartoons with textual captions.
You can use cartoon therapy or comic strips with teams of writers and artists working together on each others' stories. Emphasis is on what feelings the action story provokes. For discussing or examining an issue, life experience, or incident, the emphasis is on what happens just prior to, during, and after the episode or situation.
When working separately with husbands and wives, the wives' cartoons are read and discussed in a separate group for the husbands. The men are asked to create by collage or writing and cartooning their own comic strip with themselves as the superhero character.
If you have a situation where a man who can't take care of his wife is married to a woman who can't take care of herself (financially and emotionally), you might have to address an issue of low self esteem and/or low impulse control. The low self esteem and low impulse control is often played out by looking at and discussing the superhero in any given action adventure comic book the person may want to create and may put to interactive multimedia computer game, if the person shows an interest in enhancing creativity at the same time as working with creative writing therapy situations.
With the help of volunteer students of programming, these computer games may help the men become involved in learning digital multimedia as well as finding out why they feel so bad about themselves and fear abandonment, and why they react or respond as they do to specific experiences instead of working toward a range of change in their personal screenplays or projects, whether verbal or spatial.
The main question the therapists ask is "how do you feel about this?" The therapist is aware of symbolism and psychological themata in poetry or story writing.
n example of how poetry therapy works is the book about the poetic process by Robert White Goddess.
In White Goddess, which is about the poetic process, poet Robert Graves writes, "The pathology of poetic composition is no secret. A poet finds himself caught in some baffling emotional problem which is of such urgency that it sends him into a sort of trance. And in this trance his mind works, with astonishing boldness and precision on several imaginative levels at once.
"The poem is either a practical answer to his problem or else it is a clear statement of it; and a problem clearly stated is half way to solution. Some poets are more plagued by others with emotional problems, and more conscientious in working out poems which arise from them--that is more attentive in their service then the ."
A poetry or creative writing therapist working in the field of holistic family health might take Grave's idea of working the mind on several imaginative levels at once and channel the process into writing in branching narratives, branching alternative pathways. This idea of thinking in three dimensions in order to write, helps to examine how the writing affects feelings. The alternative branching pathways allow the writer to make choices, to grow, and to measure the range of change.
Graves believed that "poetry is formed by the supralogical reconciliation of conflicting emotional ideas during a trance-like suspension of normal habits of thought." In psychiatrist, Dr. Jack Leedy's book, Poetry, the Healer, he writes that Graves, the poet, advises us that the poet "learns to induce the trance in self-protection whenever he feels unable to resolve an emotional conflict by simple logic."
Dr. Leedy explains in Poetry, the Healer, that when poet, Robert Graves had once experienced an emotional breakdown during military service, Graves' physician, Dr. W.H.R. Rivers, theorized that "every neurotic system, like dreams, was at once the product of a mental conflict and an attempt to resolve it." Dr. Rivers believed poems functioned in the same way.
Graves studied his own poetry and then wrote, "My hope was to help the recovery of public health of mind as well as my own by the writing of therapeutic poems."
If poems can be a therapeutic part of holistic family health then many other forms of writing can be therapeutic as well, particularly the writing of stories, novels, and screenplays. Graves wanted poetry to be used as "a form of psychotherapy" for emotional problems. In Sacramento, poetry therapists might also tackle interactive multimedia writing, autobiography writing, and true life experience screenplay writing used as a form of psychotherapy.
Graves also wrote that poetry could be used as much for prevention as for the cure of emotional disturbances. Graves recommended for starting, "a well-chosen anthology." Morris , writing in J.J. Leedy's book Poetry, the Healer, stated that Graves wrote that the rhythm of a poem puts the reader "in a hypnotic trance." Morrison states, "He is confronted with an allegorical solution of the problem that has been troubling him. His unconscious accepts the allegory as applicable to his own condition; the emotional crisis is relieved."
Frederick C. Prescott's The Poetic Mind, a study of how a poet's mind works, recognizes poetry therapy.
This book relates Freud to literature and makes literature into an unconscious autobiography, a piece of writing that is disguised wish fulfillment. On page 87 of Poetry the Healer, J.J. Leedy refers to poetry as "the great universal hypnotic, the all-time mind-altering drug," and "as a healing process based on self-analysis." I use the entire spectrum of creative fact-as-fiction writing therapy to give the writer self mastery skills over the environment. I have them write fact as fiction and fiction as fact.
Creative writing therapy sometimes keeps the base firmly rooted in reality and is both personal and universal. Writing is a safe expression of feelings. Writing can be oral and put on taped, and later transcribed. Writing therapy counterbalances fears, if the participants want to try writing or journaling as one of the holistic family health approaches to therapy.
Writing is often helpful for working through feelings about situations and life experiences or issues such as entering a new stage of life. All life is a script. Some people who are interested in expressing themselves verbally, might try these methods. Other people will prefer to express themselves spatially or through kinesthetic (hands on) means. Verbal preferences can focus on written word or verbal/oral.
Those who prefer talking to writing such as some oral types may prefer to narrate their own online or on disc videobiographies. And people with artistic interests may prefer to draw or doodle a book of cartoons and illustrate the cartoons by clip collage, scanning photos onto a disk, drawing the cartoons, or using thumb prints or stick figures to animate their work.
Creative writing therapy works well with some children. Oral biographies or experiences on audio or video tape can be transcribed and the children taught to read by hearing and seeing their own stories on computer screen or typed and put into book form using desktop publishing software or text and pop-up book formats.
The writing in a script should be concrete and detailed, appealing to the senses, before it can be rationalized to the abstract. One doesn't say one is shy, one says, "I took a sudden interest in my sneakers." In a script, as in scriptwriting therapy, the writing must show the feelings to tell the story.