The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) trains military and civilian behavioral health professionals to provide behavioral health services to military personnel, veterans and their families. CDP’s vision is continually evolving to provide high-quality, culturally-sensitive, evidence-based service through ongoing training and education for health professionals.
The launching of two virtual environments at an Open House on 14 November 2018, will be held from 6-10 p.m. Eastern Time. The Virtual PTSD Learning Center presents information about post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis, assessment, and effective treatments, and features the game “Operation AVATAR,” where the visitor takes on the role of a service member, dealing with PTSD and seeking treatment. The Snoozeum teaches about sleep disorders related to military deployment, including disruptions to normal sleep patterns, assessment of sleep disorders, and effective treatments. These virtual environments are accessible in the virtual world Second Life. At the Open House, visitors will receive guided tours by experts, who will answer questions and interact with visitors.
Second Life, developed by Linden Labs, is a persistent, three-dimensional, computer generated virtual world where participants can interact with the environment and with other visitors as avatars. CDP has previously developed and launched the Virtual Education Center (VEC) within Second Life. At the VEC, CDP hosts 2-day professional training workshops for behavioral health providers.
Before accessing these events, visitors must set up a free user account with Second life and download and install the Second Life viewer application on their computer. This can be done at the end of account creation. Once the visitor has an account and has the viewer installed, they need to navigate to tinyurl.com/vptsd if they are interested in the PTSD Learning Center, or tinyurl.com/snoozeum if interested in the Snoozeum.
Users will have the best experience attending the open house event by using a laptop or desktop computer, and broadband internet, preferably cable internet. Dial-up, DSL and some satellite internet connections are not adequate for the experience. Data from the cellular network is also generally not adequate for the experience (such as using one's smart phone or a hotspot as the data source). Users also need a relatively up to date computer (within the last 5-6 years old). More information about minimum system requirements and preparation before the event can be found on CDP’s website at https://deploymentpsych.org/virtual-provider-training-in-second-life.
“These experiential learning environments, where visitors learn by doing, are meant to leverage the affordances of shared three-dimensional computer-generated environments and are adjunct to CDP’s more traditional two-day professional training workshops for behavioral health providers,” said Dr. Kevin Holloway, director of training and education at the Center. “The intended audience is behavioral health providers who work with service members, especially those presenting with PTSD and/or sleep disorders concerns. Other behavioral health providers will likely find the experiences valuable.”
In the future, CDP is expecting to offer continuing education credits for completion of these experiences.