The Lancet Psychiatry has today published the results of a clinical trial by Tom Craig and colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) into AVATAR therapy.

AVATAR therapy is a method of directly engaging with voices, whereby ‘staff help voice-hearers to design an audio-visual representation of the heard voice to facilitate therapeutic dialogue’.

The report suggests that direct engagement with voices can have measurable benefits for patients, and results from the trial provide promising evidence for the efficacy of AVATAR therapy. The IoPPN study revealed positive changes in voice-perception among participants, and an overall reduction in the severity of auditory verbal hallucinations they experienced.

This report was accompanied by ‘Understanding AVATAR therapy: who, or what, is changing?’, a commentary written by Ben Alderson-Day (co-investigator with Hearing the Voice) and our collaborator Nev Jones (University of South Florida). Ben’s commentary provides an important framework for those seeking to understand and contextualise the IoPPN trial, and we’re delighted to announce its inclusion. Felicity Deamer from Hearing the Voice has recently been collaborating with the AVATAR team, and over the next few months they will be working together to understand more about the linguistic interactions at the heart of the method.

The article itself, including Ben’s commentary, can be found here.

Media coverage

We’re concerned to see that some media coverage portrays AVATAR therapy as a treatment for schizophrenia rather than a therapeutic intervention for distressing voices, but delighted to see that this important study is receiving the coverage it deserves.

New Scientist. Putting a face on hallucinations aids symptoms of schizophrenia. 24 November 2017.

Wellcome Trust. Avatar therapy: early trial results ‘very encouraging’. 24 November 2017.

BBC. Avatar therapy ‘reduces power of schizophrenia voices’. 24 November 2017.

CNN. ‘Avatar therapy’ aims to help those who hear voices. 24 November 2017.

The Times. Avatar therapy helps stem schizophrenic hallucinations. 24 November 2017.

For further information about AVATAR therapy, read our previous blog post on the pilot trial or watch this video from the New Scientist: