“Down But Not Out” at Virtual Ability, Inc.’s Annual Mental Health Symposium

mental disorder conference_003To visit the site where Virtual Ability, Inc. recently held their Annual Mental Health Symposium, please click here:  The Sijourner Auditorium Virtual Ability Island

In Second Life, we are offered the choice of breathing life into an avatar that is beautiful beyond even our own imagining. Yet in breathing this life, we are afforded the ability to omit RL circumstances and challenges, and are also afforded the opportunity to create avatars devoid of physical impairments and disabilities.

However, this does not mean that mental, physical and emotional disabilities are not present in Second Life, because there are many SL community members who rely on Second Life to do things they either may not be able to do, or have a limited capacity to do.  This also explains the reason behind the creation of Virtual Ability, Inc., whose vision is “….to be the leading provider of services and information for people with disabilities in online virtual worlds” (virtualability.org).

mental disorder conference_005Because, according to the Virtual Ability, Inc.’s website, their “…mission is to enable people with a wide range of disabilities, specifically by providing a supporting environment for them to enter and thrive in online virtual worlds,” Virtual Ability, Inc. offers a Second Life based symposium called The Mental Health Symposium. This Symposium is actually an annual internationally-based professional conference held right here in Second Life.  In fact, one of this year’s conference topics focused on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and took place at 1 PM SLT on Saturday, June 19, 2016.

Entitled, “Down But Not Out,”  this year’s Mental Health Symposium featured the following speakers:  Colleen Crary, M.A., Dr. Vanja Duric, Dr. Harold Koenig, Dr. Jerome Sarris, Dr. Tammy Fletcher, Rienna Rieko, Louise Dibbs, Lyn Ainsworth, and Andrea Arzt.  To learn more about these dynamic speakers, please feel free to click the following link:  The Mental Health Symposium, “Down But Not Out”

dbt-therapy-300x300According to Wikipedia.com., Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a therapy designed to help people change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as self-harm, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse (wikipedia.com).  Wikipedia.com describes this behavioral-based therapy approach as one that “works towards helping people increase their emotional and cognitive regulation by learning about the triggers that lead to reactive states and helping to assess which coping skills to apply in the sequence of events, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to help avoid undesired reactions (wikipedia.com).

Wikipedia.com also contends that “Dialectical Behavior Therapy assumes that people are doing the best they can but are either lacking the skills or influenced by positive or negative reinforcement that interfere with their ability to function appropriately” (wikipedia.com).

Rienna Rieko reiterates Wikipedia.com’s definition by offering a synopsis on why Dialectical Behavior therapy is so important.  During her presentation on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, she explains, “To truly have a life worth living, the service user must learn new skills, learn to experience emotions, and accomplish ordinary life goals. Therapy is not finished until all of this is accomplished.”

mental disorder conference_001
Rienna Rieko discusses Dialectical Behavior Therapy….

Besides reiterating the definition of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Rienna Rieko also discussed the key difference between The Dialectical Behavior Therapy and other forms of mental therapy.  As she compared Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for instance, Rieko contends, that “…CBT focuses on change (as it relates to a person’s patterned behavior), whereas DBT focuses on Dialectic acceptance and change.  CBT [also] focuses on exposure to distress ….DBT focuses on exposure to stress with acceptance of CBT is focused on specific problems whereas DBT is more broad and inclusive and uses hierarchy to focus on problems….”

Encompassing an array of topics that were keenly represented by real life mental health professionals, The Annual Mental Health Symposium was not only a success, but a true representation of inner beauty within SL.  As a collective, we are a part of something bigger and more accessible to many, and this Symposium proves that.

virtual ability

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