Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Technotherapies event in CATCH - University of Sheffield

Last week, CATCH hosted researchers, designers and members of the community at an event titled ‘Technotherapies’. This event showcased exciting new technologies, both in production and currently in use, for people with mental health conditions.

Breaking Free exhibited their app, Breaking Free Online, a suite of tools for recovery from substance abuse. This app is the first to be used in prisons for successfully aiding recovery from addiction.

Anxiety Companion, made by the team at Design and Prosper, was also on show. It provides online, simplified, cognitive behavioural therapy for helping people to manage with anxiety. Dan Bladon, of Design and Prosper, gave a talk at the event, explaining how his own experiences had helped him to design the app. 

The Speech, Hearing and Phonetics group from University College London showcased their prototype Avatar Therapy for people with schizophrenia. Their software allows people to visualise the faces of people whose voices they hear and externalise them.  A therapist can then speak through the medium of the avatar, and help people to reason with the voices they hear. 

Other exhibitors included the Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute from Sheffield Hallam University, who demonstrated a virtual reality environment, produced using an Oculus Rift. Much interest was shown in this piece of technology. Though still in its infancy, the hope is for the work to produce a therapeutic tool for people with mental health problems.

Demonstration of a therapeutic virtual reality environment using
an Oculus Rift, one of several exciting new technologies
on display at TechnoTherapies
Big White Wall, a company that offers online therapy and an associated suite of tools were also in attendance, demonstrating their latest work. 

A number of academics from CATCH and representatives from external organisations presented at the event, which was deemed by all to have been an exciting and stimulating afternoon. Our thanks go to Dr Katherine Easton for organising the event!

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