What is AVATAR therapy?

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AVATAR Therapyquestion icon is a new approach to the treatment of distressing voices currently under trial in the UK. The therapy was first developed by Julian Leff to improve the lives of people suffering from difficult and disruptive voices that don’t respond well to medication.

In AVATAR therapy, the client uses a specialist computer programme to create an avatar of the entity, human or non-human, which they believe is speaking to them. The therapist then encourages the voice-hearer to stand up to the avatar, and is able to alter the programme so that it gradually comes under their control. The voice eventually changes, becoming less abusive and persecutory.

AVATAR therapy is not currently available in the UK outside clinical trials, and is not currently licensed for the treatment of psychosis outside specific scientific studies. More research is needed to see whether it is cost effective and whether it can be delivered through NHS mental health services on a wide scale.

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