Research demonstrates impact of virtual social training

Research demonstrates impact of virtual social training
Charisma 1.0 avatar creator. Participants have the option to customize their avatar within the virtual world to create a sense of authenticity. Credit: Frontiers in Virtual Reality (2022). DOI: 10.3389/frvir.2022.1004162

New research from Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas demonstrates that Charisma Virtual Social Coaching supports social skill development through, controlled, targeted practice in a computer-generated, three-dimensional virtual environment. Charisma is a personalized, strategy-focused social coaching program conducted entirely online.

This award-winning, avatar-driven virtual gaming environment, uses a combination of social cognitive strategy , strengths-based coaching, and real-time practice to build skills associated with initiating conversations, maintaining relationships, promoting , managing interpersonal dynamics, and improving overall daily social interactions.

The research, "Charisma Virtual Social Training: A Digital Health Platform and Protocol," was recently published in Frontiers in Virtual Reality.

This study investigated the impact of 10 hours of social training on sixty-seven children and adolescents between the ages of 9 and 17. The research explored two delivery models (in-person versus remote) in two populations (parent report of autism spectrum disorder-ASD diagnosis versus non-ASD diagnosis including Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder-ADHD, mental health challenges and other social learning disablities).

Nine social cognitive strategies were taught and then practiced with interspersed social coaching. Pre- and post-training results demonstrated significant benefits in being able to recognize emotions, infer social intentions, understand perspectives and describe their pro-social positive qualities.

Training was effective irrespective of delivery model. This important finding may eliminate the need for youth to interact with clinicians on-site at a school or specialty center and allow online training in the comfort and safety of home. Likewise, there was no difference in performance results between the ASD versus non-ASD groups, suggesting Charisma may be effective for any youth struggling with social interactions.

Lead author Maria Johnson, MA, CCC-SLP, director of youth and family innovations with Center for BrainHealth, stated, "These promising findings support the potential of new virtual technology tools to improve in youth with a range of social difficulties, verifying the positive impact of remote, social training within a virtual gaming environment."

More information: Maria Johnson et al, Charisma virtual social training: A digital health platform and protocol, Frontiers in Virtual Reality (2022). DOI: 10.3389/frvir.2022.1004162

Provided by Center for BrainHealth
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