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How a Clinical Psychologist incorporates Psious & VR into their practice- Interview with Gerard Finnemore

Psious recently had the pleasure of conversing with Gerard Finnemore a clinical psychologist from South Africa. 

Gerard Finnemore is a clinical psychologist who has 15 years experience. Gerard began his working career as a writer in the advertising industry. Later realising his passion and interest in everything to do with the mind. Gerard received his masters in Clinical Psychology from Rhodes University in 1997. 

Gerard Finnemore inaugurated Psious' Virtual Reality platform into his practice just four months ago. At present he uses Virtual Reality for relaxation and mindfulness training and will soon be incorporating it into treating other conditions and treatments.   


 Thank you Gerard for agreeing to do this interview. First of all, can you tell us more about your experience and what enticed you to become a phycologist?

After completing a Bachelors degree in Commerce I worked as a writer for an advertising company, creating many media campaigns for transnational companies. After roughly 15 years I decided it was a good time to go back to University and study English formally. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to study for a degree in English and Psychology, followed by a Masters in Clinical Psychology in my mid-40s. I would say that the career choose me rather than me choosing it!


How did you hear about the use of virtual reality in mental health for the first time?

I heard about the use of Virtual Reality in cooperation with mental health from colleagues in the United States who were using biofeedback and found that VR was a natural partner, the two go hand in hand.  


How did you hear about Psious in particular? And how does Virtual Reality work for both you and your patients? 

I decided to use Psious because of the ease of the operation, value for money and well-informed insight into the healthcare industry. In regards to patients and virtual reality, my clients get very excited as the prospect of VR and are motivated to move into areas of concern.  


Have you seen any changes or improvements in your treatments since you started using Psious?

Although I am still very new to Psious and Psious is new to my therapy, I have noticed and experienced positive results since incorporating it into my practice. 


Would you recommend the Psious Virtual Reality Platform to other professionals and to people suffering from anxiety disorders? 

I would highly recommend it, due to its well developed system, value for money and healthcare experience. Furthermore, it allows clients to engage with the source of their anxiety in carefully controlled environments. My personal favourite environment is 'Swimming with wild dolphins'. It's completely transporting and makes many of our typical life issues seem insignificant. I believe its best if you do it twice, as the second time allows you to focus more on the mindfulness message, letting go of stress and anger. 


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The graph above represents the client's skin conductance (a measure very sensitive to anxiety) showing how he was able to reduce anxiety after just three Virtual Reality Therapy sessions and being exposed to a stressful event.


How would you like to see Virtual Reality in the health industry change or evolve in the future? 

The uses have only just began to be explored. I believe VR has a big future in psychology because it helps enable the experience of "real life". There is some remarkable work being done using interactive VR in the area of racism and bullying. For example, it allows you to take the form of someone who is a victim of racism and truly feel what it is like. Not only in a country like South Africa but it seems the world is grappling with the problem of cultural diversity, as well as income disparity and interactive VR can unmask and reveal the felt experience of this. 


What new possibilities for Virtual Reality therapy would you like to witness?   

I am fascinated as the prosperity of incorporating VR therapy into normal talk therapy and working on structuring a range of training environments which are personal to a client and their needs. In addition to this, I would like to see it being used for attentional skills, ADHD, resilience and fear-facing. I am aware of some preliminary research that has demonstrated very positive results. 

Thank you Gerard!


If you wish to contact Gerard Finnemore you can find all the necessary information on his website   http://www.gerardfinnemore.co.za/ .


 Do you want to join Gerard Finnemore and start using VR in your private practice? Leave us your contact details in the form below!