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Using Virtual Reality Can Help Increase Mindfulness with Children

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Let's remember what is Mindfulness

Mindfulness is defined as awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally (Kabat-Zinn, 2003; quoted in Boettcher et al., 2014). It enables to learn how to focus one’s attention, without letting our thoughts distract us, nor judging them.

Mindfulness can be used as a tool with the treatment of different problems linked to mental health or to improve skills and abilities in individuals without any psychopathologies. The practice of Mindfulness is not aimed at treating specific symptoms of a particular disorder: it helps treat some aspects that are common to different disorders and/or difficulties.

Why use Mindfulness with children?

Recent investigations indicate that Mindfulness can help kids to improve their abilities to pay attention, relax themselves when upset, and make better decisions. It helps them through emotional regulation to develop their focus and self-consciousness.

New Virtual Reality Environment by Psious

Mindfulness for Kids is a new Virtual Reality environment developed by Psious, which includes 4 scenes based on the 4 seasons of the year. A different aspect can be practiced in each of them, with any child between 6 and 12 years old, thanks to guided activities. They are meditations with audio guides, which means the intervention of the therapist is not necessary during the exposure.

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Spring: relaxation

This scene’s landscape is full of green tones and reminds us of a forest. Walking by the surroundings, the activities will be focused on attention and consciousness in order to improve the child’s capacity to self-regulate his/her calm and relaxation state (cognitive management, muscular relaxation, relax generation through self-instructions).

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Summer: energy

This one is set in a desert with palm trees, camels, horses, etc., where the child will be able to practice the identification and management of emotional states, as well as the detection of own and external emotional states.

 

Screenshot_2018-03-01-17-03-05.pngAutumn: joy

The purpose of this scene is to work on generating positive emotions. It is set in a landscape with warm colors, background sounds of trees, water, and other elements of the environment. Along the path the patient will be able to work on breathing, emotions, identification, and generation, and thought management (anger, frustration).

 

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Winter: attention

This scene has been developed to train the patient to focus his/her attention on the present moment. You can hear sounds that will remind you of the mountain wind or trees moving. You can practice breathing, auditory and visual attention, and the change in attentional focus.

How are all these resources applied, then?

toolsuite2autumn.pngIt’s very easy!
At the beginning of the intervention, we recommend providing information to the child about the exercises that will be carried out and their benefits. Then, the therapist only needs to access Psious’s web platform, which will give him/her control over the virtual environments, and open the mobile app before inserting the smartphone into the VR goggles. Ready to go!
We recommend to give the child some time to familiarize with the environment before starting with the activities.
The therapist can decide which season they want to immerse the patient into, based on the objectives they want to target during the session. Everything can be done through the control panel on the computer such as changing the season and practicing diffrent exersizes. Repeat various times to foster the training.
At the end of the virtual reality exposure, the therapist can assign some homeworks to the kid, giving them examples or preparing them together.

References

Liehr, P., & Diaz, N. (2010). A Pilot Study Examining the Effect of Mindfulness on Depression and Anxiety for Minority Children. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 24(1), 69–71.

Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52-66.

Semple, R. J., Lee, J., Rosa, D., & Miller, L. F. (2010). A randomized trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children: promoting mindful attention to enhance social-emotional resiliency in children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(2), 218–229.