Last week I had a very long overdue lunch with a close psychologist friend of mine. As we caught up on our lives, I told her about Psychology21C and asked her if she had heard of avatars… Second Life… virtual reality. It immediately became clear that my very smart friend didn’t have a clue.
I was excited to tell her what I had been learning about how social networking and knowledge sharing occur in large virtual meetings, how avatar-based role play improves employee performance and how the social intranet is where the work gets done. THERE WAS NO TIME.
My friend is an experienced psychotherapist with a successful practice. I explained that avatars are current tools used clinically with adolescents, addictions, eating disorders, PTSD, and in training. She asked me how two avatars in a virtual environment therapy room could be preferable to a Skype call where she sees a real time video of her client from the waist up.
I told her about the accessibility to virtual environments that are confidential and HIPAA compliant in the way that Skype isn’t and that avatars allow for a sense of presence and embodiment in the way video conferencing doesn’t and that avatars may allow for greater verbal openness.
My luncheon take way was simple:
1. Don’t order the chicken salad
2. Remember to introduce a new idea ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME. Listen for questions like: What is a virtual environment? What is an avatar? Where are avatars being used? How do they relate to the way I communicate and work now and in the future? How do I learn more about this new idea AT THIS TIME?