Virtual Social Therapy®
Virtual Social Therapy (VST) is an innovative behavioral transformation concept that utilizes the Internet and healtheo360’s caring network platform.
VST enhances the current delivery of the various modes of therapy: individual, group, and family by extending the physical setting to the virtual.
VST is a form of palliative care combined with supportive peer-therapy. This approach is beneficial for patients suffering from all chronic conditions as well as their caregivers, family members and friends. Additionally, VST provides support in all disease stages, from newly diagnosed to patients nearing the end of life. Healtheo360 utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to facilitating our patent pending “caring network”. Our “caring network” leverages input from patients directly, their physicians, pharmacists, nurses, chaplains, social workers, psychologists, family members and friends, thus our 360 degree approach to healtheo360. Our approach directly addresses important components of total health such as physical, emotional, spiritual and social concerns that arise with the advancement of their condition.
Virtual Social Therapy® is an innovative form of therapy that begins on healtheo360.com. Members socially interact online in the context of blogs, support groups, and chiefly via video testimonies. Members can find people similar to them on a number of dimensions to interact with through their shared chronic conditions. Members participate for a number of reasons: to share their personal experiences offer information or to raise overall awareness of the issues affecting their lives. healtheo360 not only gives people an opportunity to open up and express how they are feeling at certain points in their health journey, but healtheo360 is rapidly becoming the voice of social therapy. Many times visitors to our community return to watch stories from our members, educate themselves through our support and sponsor group content or simply looking for inspiration. Visitors then find themselves compelled to join in on the conversation.
Through VST via the healtheo360 community, conversations blossom into virtual relationships of support. Member participation in healtheo360’s community is focused around life’s most critical issues pertaining to health. Healtheo360 members connect to others to better understand and manage their condition and gain an understanding of information such as: Caring for a loved one; communicating to family and friends; diet & nutrition; exercise & fitness; lifestyle changes; living and working with a condition; medications & medical procedures; motivation & support and preparing for the future. VST allows members to socialize, form online friendships and relationships effortlessly. The virtual component of our platform allows members to avoid any stigma or misperceptions and other obstacles, which would normally be attached to seeking support for their conditions. VST also enables members to experience and act beyond the restrictions of their illness and help to relieve stress.
Virtual Social Therapy® also provides therapy for people with logistical constraints in accessing traditional methods of therapy such as cost, scheduling or location. VST allows people with these barriers to access and use therapy through healtheo360 at no cost to them, from the comfort and serenity of their home. Having the access to VST from home or their workplace can help people be more at ease and comfortable, as opposed to face-to-face social support groups. In addition, the active community also helps users to stay current on relevant information regarding their specific condition, as well as feeling as if they are engaged in the management of their health while experiencing an excellent source of feedback from other members. However, while VST is a good way of communicating and interacting between patients, caregivers, their family and friends with like conditions, it is NOT a substitute for traditional therapy from a professional. Moreover, VST has the potential to improve the compliance and efficacy of traditional therapy.
VST can serve a variety of research and educational goals and may be useful in examining human behavior. Research in psychology explores the reasons for indulging and the emotions of virtual world users. Many users seek an escape or a comfort zone in entering virtual platforms, as well as a sense of acceptance and freedom (Indalecio, 2010). VST allows users to freely explore the multi faceted dimensions of their condition in a way that is not easily available to them in real life. It gives the individual the ability to be free from social norms, family pressures or expectations they may face in their personal real world lives (Indalecio, 2010).
Virtual Social Therapy® does not represent a simple tool or one way retrieval of information on the Internet. Instead, healtheo360’s Virtual Social Therapy® an individual’s bridge between the physical and virtual world, a conduit through which to express oneself among other social actors (McCreery). Online encounters are employed as seemingly fulfilling alternatives to “live person” relationships (Toronto, 2009). When an individual is ashamed, insecure, lost or just looking for something different and stimulating to engage in, healtheo360 is the perfect environment for our visitors and members. Ultimately, healtheo360’s Virtual Social Therapy® platform is the place to go when real life becomes overbearing, confusing, or uncertain. While in real life, sometimes individuals hesitate to communicate their true opinions or feelings, and find it is easier to do so online (Toronto, 2009). Thus, virtual worlds are basically a psychological, therapeutic escape.
The greatest misconception is the belief that people who go to therapy have deeper issues. In reality, the largest demographic of therapy goers include, everyday, ordinary people struggling with everyday human challenges such as depression, anxiety, trauma and issues stemming from a chronic condition. Beyond technique and theory is the realm of the relationship that VST offers: the ongoing human-to-human connection that provides support, motivation, and most importantly, the foundation to improve their situation. In addition to overcoming barriers and aiding in the release of extreme emotions, VST may service people to boost qualities of self such as joy, compassion, peace, self-esteem, spiritual connection, and love. Healtheo360 members will enjoy the benefits of Virtual Social Therapy® by becoming more conscious about themselves, their condition, and their relationships with others through the support of our “Caring Community”.
Indalecio, Tina. Psychology Today. How Much Of An Individual’s Virtual Identity, Is Really - Real? Exploring Identity in the Virtual World - Is that REALLY you? 1991-2012. Sussex Publishers, LLC. 30 April 2010
McCreery, Michael Patrick. UNLV University Libraries. University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Personality, Presence, And The Virtual Self: A Fivefactor Model Approach To Behavioral Analysis Within A Virtual Environment. 201.
Schroeder, Ralph (1999). Social Life in Virtual Worlds: Structure and Interaction in Multi-User Virtual Reality Technology, Communications & Strategies, no. 33, 1st quarter, p. 137.]
Toronto, Ellen. "Time Out Of Mind: Dissociation In The Virtual World." Psychoanalytic Psychology 26.2 (2009): 117-133. PsycARTICLES. Web. 11 Oct.