Revista Internacional de Saúde Mental e Psiquiatria

Soulhacker: An Artist-Medical Collaboration to Treat Depression via Artistic Virtual Reality

Georges Otte, Dirk De Ridder, Eric Joris, Isjtar Vandebroeck and Kristin S. Williams

"Soulhacker" is a pilot study that results from collaboration between artists and health care providers and is aimed at exploring the potential benefits of an artistic implementation of Virtual Reality (VR) to treat depression and anxiety. Soulhacker creates a VR environment that embeds a metaphorical engaging model of active patient agency inspired by the work of Milton Erickson. It creates a new level of VR "presence" that can have therapeutic or transformative effects. Participants reported positive short-term effects on their mood (arousal, valence and control) and presented statistical significant changes in brain electrical activity in hubs belonging to sensimotor and default mode brain network as measured by qEEG, that are consistent with previous research. These beneficial preliminary results warrant a further larger randomized controlled study to verify those promising effects and positioning of this new form of psychotherapy within existing modalities.