Designing a virtual reality exposure therapy tool with counsellors to support remote learning of conversation skills using role-playing techniques for clients on the autism spectrum (high – functioning).
Conversation Fuel is a concept design for a counsellor support tool. This concept design was developed as a part of my thesis project at Emily Carr University.
Many counsellors working with clients with high functioning autism do not have adequate support tools to incorporate in remote therapy. During the pandemic, many individuals on the spectrum faced dire consequences due to the discontinuation of counselling services. While counsellors adapted to virtual counselling, they lacked adequate tools to make it as effective as in-person sessions. Specifically, many counsellors in Canada used role-playing to develop conversational skills for their clients on the autism spectrum. However, traditional role-playing methods didn’t translate well into virtual space because the counsellors could not monitor their client’s stress level and observe their body language.
During the course of my research, I used participatory methods to co-design this concept tool with six clinical counsellors in Canada.
Previous research has indicated that skills learned in a virtual space can be easily generalized into a real-life situation. Conversation Fuel uses this principle to combine VR exposure therapy and biofeedback to address the gap in support tools for remote therapy.