AVATAR Therapy 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.
Find out more
Philipa Roxby (2017). Avatar Therapy reduces power of schizophrenia voices. BBC News.
Tom Craig et al (2017). Avatar Therapy for auditory verbal hallucinations in people with psychosis: a single blind, randomized controlled study. The Lancet Psychiatry.
Ben Alderson-Day and Nev Jones (2017). Understanding Avatar Therapy: Who, or what, is changing?. The Lancet Psychiatry.
Joe Barnby (2018). Facing our inner voices: AVATAR therapy for auditory hallucinations in people with psychosis. The Mental Elf.
Rufus May (2012). Avatar Therapy Reviewed. rufusmay.com.