Encompassing Mental Health

San Diego, CA: On September 29th, 2017, Interactive Media Institute (IMI) traveled to Riverside, California to present at the annual Encompassing Mental Health (EMH) conference. Organized by Reach Out and the Inland Health Professions Coalition—a youth development organization—this event educated high school juniors and seniors in the Moreno Valley area on behavioral health practice, pathway, and occupations. IMI’s representative, Ian Miller, spoke to the conference attendees about the use of virtual reality in behavioral health interventions and the importance of increasing access to mental health services in their community. Additionally, the attendees participated in a group discussion about destigmatizing mental illness. When asked about what they had learned, one student planning to study psychology in college said “I’d never heard of virtual reality therapy until today, but it’s an interesting new field in psychology!” While receiving a demonstration on the use of virtual reality relaxation in the treatment of anxiety disorders, another attendee said “It’s so cool that I can just put on this headset and sit on a beach to relax.”

The Impact of Technology on Childhood and Adolescence

On Friday, November 17, Dr. Brenda K Wiederhold gave the invited keynote address at the Cyberbullying, Psychological Well-Being of Teenagers and New Media Conference in Milan, Italy.  The conference was attended by parents, researchers, clinicians and heads of the Fondazione Varenna, Municipal Council of Milan and Lombardy Region General Welfare Directorate.   The presentation focused on both the positive and the negative impact that Virtual Reality and Social Networking are having on today’s children and adolescents.  We must work together to embrace the positive and develop strategies to correct the negative.





In her November 2017 editorial for CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking Journal, she addresses the digital anxieties shaping our next generation’s mental health.






Contact:  frontoffice @ vrphobia.com (delete the spaces to send an email)

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Interns Attend BE.VR in Brussels


Every two months, Virtual Reality in Belgium (BE.VR) hosts a meet-up in which new ideas and innovations are introduced and shared with members of the virtual reality community. On Thursday, June 4th, new interns William Zhu, Emily LaFond, and Miranda Lin attended this event that featured various presentations from VR companies.  They were even given the opportunity to try their new software and products! Here is what they had to say:  


“The Virtual Reality in Belgium (BE.VR) conference was a rather unique and unexpected event that I had the honor to attend during my internship with VRMI. It was eye opening to see how far the developers have come to creating a virtual world with tools such as Oculus Rift. Trying on the devices felt surreal. It felt as if another world suddenly emerged in front of my eyes.

Although most people are excited about virtual reality for the entertainment aspect of it, and I won’t deny that I am either, I see a lot of potential for this in other fields. For example, the unprecedented improvement from Oculus can be the next big thing for virtual medical programs, allowing professionals to deal with patients that suffer from PTSD and various phobias more efficiently. With the continuing and rapid advancement of our technology, I can see an increasing demand for virtual medics every day. This could be the future of psychology. Furthermore, virtual reality can play a huge role in training purposes, whether it is for military, police, firefighters, etc. It can sufficiently mimic the situation and trick your brain into believing the scenario. With virtual reality, we will have more trained and better prepared law enforcers and public servants!

Virtual reality has garnered a lot of attention lately from the public, which makes me feel optimistic about the future of this field of technology. It could be a game changer!”

-William Zhu


Intern Will Zhu trying out a product from The Big Bad Wolf, a Belgian based VR company. Photo courtesy of BE.VR


“The Belgium Virtual Reality Meetup was a great way to be introduced to the industry. Prior to the event, I had little knowledge of virtual reality and its use in society. I understand that virtual reality (VR) is an innovative and fast-growing industry that does not entirely dedicate itself to healthcare and therapy. In fact, the majority of VR presented at the event was focused on media purposes including the video gaming and film production industries. We heard from about five different companies and the products they offer. Most of them create software for better VR and more realistic simulations.

I had the opportunity of trying out some of the products before the presentations began. Their dedication and excitement for their demos was overwhelming, which only reinforces their passion for virtual reality. Most companies were based out of Belgium, however, there were others from various parts of Europe including Denmark and France. It was exciting to see the diversity among the products within the virtual reality industry. Although most of the presentations were geared toward the gaming and film industries, I realize VR’s potential for enhancing healthcare treatments specifically for mental health and pain management. The innovation and further development of VR has no intention of slowing down, providing VRMI with an optimistic future!”

-Emily LaFond


Conference attendee experiencing Vector VR’s driving simulation through the Oculus Rift. Photo courtesy of BE.VR


“The virtual reality event on Thursday was very impressive. It was inspirational to see how VR can be applied to various areas. For example, the ASPIC Technologies group showed us a demo of their virtual reality software, which can be applied in the film or gaming industries. The scenes are so realistic that you forget it is indeed virtual reality. They also presented another technology involving human action. In this virtual reality scene, there were three cubes with different colors that were mixed together in a box and I could use my hands to separate them. After using these demos, I could begin to compare the various products and determine the one that appeared most realistic.

In addition to my hands-on experience, I also had the chance to talk to the Vection VR group. The group is aiming to use the Oculus Rift to create vivid driving scenes, enhancing the customer’s experience. This technology can be used for driving schools, racing practices, and at-home video games. Another fascinating company was PsyNAPS, who is aiming to use their new technology to percept the neural process and action behaviour in order to develop treatment exercise.

Although the virtual reality is very impressive, you can still feel the difference when the scene is moving. For example, the cube and racing experience I tried did not entirely sync with my movement. If the VR cannot give the same experience to the patient as reality does, then we need to be more cautious when evaluating the effectiveness of the treatment. I also had the chance to talk to a woman at the conference who is doing marketing for her VR company.  I admired her methods and hope that VRMI can continue to market itself in Europe as our treatment has proven to be helpful to our patients.”

-Miranda Lin 

Silicon Valley Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum


Chief Technology Officer of The Virtual Reality Medical Center Lingjun Kong participated in the Silicon Valley Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum (SVIEF) on 27 September 2014. SVIEF is an international conference designed to foster innovation and promote business partnerships connecting the US and Asia-Pacific regions. It is a leading venue in the high-tech industry field which gathers multi-tech and business professionals, while providing a platform for talent, technology, and capital exchange. The 2014 SVIEF was designed to be intense and informative, with the theme on “Global Vision of Innovation: Cross-Border and Disrupt”. The primary goal of this conference was to bring together global technology leaders as well as friends and partners, such as the US and China, with an efficient platform for communication and networking, as well as letting the world know the power of the cross-border cooperation in the technology sector.

Games for Health Europe Conference

International forerunners of applied gaming and healthcare once again landed in Utrecht on October 27 & 28 for Games for Health Europe Conference. The conference brought together researchers, medical professionals and game developers to exchange the latest innovations regarding applied games. 57 speakers from Europe, US and Japan came to share the latest innovations in applied game industry, as well as 20 Universities and academic hospitals were involved. The topics focused on business of cutting-edge games, game design, games for rehabilitation and disease management, health behavior change, biofeedback, cognitive health, nutrition and health education. Brenda Wiederhold from the Virtual Reality Medical Institute presented a design of a mobile app that could empower children to overcome fears. Kristina Augustinaite attended this conference as a press officer for the VRMI.


VRMI Attends Lt. Travis Manion Memorial

June 17, 2014

Members of  Interactive Media Institute and Virtual Reality Medical Institute were honored to be in attendance at the Sunset Parade in Washington DC to honor Travis Manion.  Guests of Honor at the event included Colonel Thomas Manion (USMC, Retired), Chairman Emeritus Travis Manion Foundation and Ms. Ryan Borek, President, Travis Manion Foundation.  The event was hosted by Lieutenant General William Faulkner, Deputy Commandant, Installations and Logistics.

About Travis Manion:

1st Lt. Travis Manion made the ultimate sacrifice in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. He, his fellow Marines, and Iraqi Army counterparts were ambushed while searching a suspected insurgent house. 1st Lt. Manion led the counterattack against the enemy forces. He was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper while aiding and drawing fire away from his wounded comrades. His selfless actions allowed every member of his patrol to survive. For his actions, he was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star with Valor.

Shortly after the death of 1st Lt. Travis Manion in Iraq on April 29, 2007, the fallen Marine’s mother, the late Janet Manion, founded the Travis Manion Foundation to assist our nation’s veterans and families of the fallen. TMF engages with veterans and families of the fallen in all stages of their personal journeys and offers them unique opportunities to empower them to achieve their goals. TMF believes that the best way to honor the fallen is by challenging the living. TMF challenges veterans and survivors to lead the “If Not Me, Then Who…” movement and inspire others to continue the service to community and country exemplified by the nation’s fallen heroes.

Press Release – CYPSY19 Award Winners

At the International Association of CyberPsychology, Training & Rehabilitation’s (iACToR) 19th Annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY19), awards are presented to pay tribute to individuals for their outstanding achievements.  Past recipients include Professor Dr. Stephane Bouchard (2005), Professor Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold (2006), Professor Dr. Giuseppe Riva (2007), Professor Dr. Cristina Botella (2008), Professor Dr. Hunter Hoffman (2009), Professor Dr. Sun I. Kim (2010) and Professor Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold (2011), Professor Dr. Mariano Alcaniz (2012) and Professor Richard M. Satava. (2013).

To celebrate more than a decade of exciting advances in cybertherapy as well as the growth of the CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference itself, we are proud to announce Prof Andrea Gaggioli as the 10th Annual CyberTherapy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. This award, the highest given by our community, has a tradition of honoring a person who has demonstrated outstanding lifetime achievements in the fields of advanced technologies and healthcare.

Prof. Gaggioli is Research Professor of General Psychology at the Catholic University of Milan, Italy; Senior Researcher of the Interactive Communication and Ergonomics of New Technologies – ICE-NET – Lab. at the Catholic University of Milan, Italy, and Deputy Head Researcher at the Applied Technology for Neuro-Psychology Laboratory – ATN-P Lab., Istituto Auxologico Italiano. For over ten years, Prof. Gaggioli has investigated the potential role of pervasive technologies in promoting mental and physical wellbeing. His involvement with those research areas has led to the co-authoring of over fifty articles in refereed journals, including these papers published in “Science”: (i) Gaggioli A., Riva G., Working the Crowd, Science. 2008 Sep 12;321(5895):1443; (ii) Gorini A, Gaggioli A, Riva G. Virtual Worlds, Real Healing. Science. 2007 Dec 7;318(5856):1549. For his scientific work, Prof. Gaggioli received several international acknowledgements, including the 2005 Annual Prize of the European Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine (http://www.aemr.eu/). In addition, he has recently completed coordinating the European Commission funded INTERSTRESS project (Interreality in the Management and Treatment of Stress-Related Disorders). This STREP project explored the potential of a new human-computer paradigm – “Interreality” – for the management of psychological stress.

The aim of the Clinical Cyberpsychology New Investigator Award is to reward the presentation of strong methodological studies at the CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking conference. This year we are delighted announce Dr. Fillipo La Pagaila as the conference award recipient. Dr. La Pagaila is an Italian psychologist who received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorder at the University of Palermo with the experimental thesis on “Assessment of Executive Functions in Patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by Virtual Reality.” Currently Dr. La Pagaila works at the Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neuroscience, University of Palermo, Italy.

The main area of interest for Dr. La Pagaila is the application of Virtual Reality and media technologies within the clinical context. His current work includes the “Assessment of Executive Functions in Patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by NeuroVirtual Reality and the “Cognitive Rehabilitation in Schizophrenic Patients by Virtual Reality”. In addition, since 2004 Dr. La Pagaila has been planning and conducting educational robotics laboratories in primary and secondary school which are aimed at the improvement of mathematical logical thought and problem-solving strategies.

Dr. La Pagaila is the author of several scientific papers published in the area of methods and psychology assessment tools and the use of virtual reality and the Internet in medicine and  training. In 2013, La Paglia received “The 2013 Young Minds Research Award and since 2008, he has participated at each CYPSY conference.

To showcase outstanding achievements in a student poster submission to the CYPSY Conference, the Young Minds Research Awards, sponsored by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers, are presented to those projects judged to have the greatest potential to contribute to the innovative field of cyberpsychology, cybertherapy, training, & rehabilitation.

We are proud to announce our two poster winners, Jonathan Shalom from Israel and the lab of Soledad Quero from Spain. Mr. Shalom is currently a Ph.D candidate from Ben-Gurion University in Israel and presented his work ‘Social Anxiety and Physiological Arousal in Computer Mediated vs. Face-to-Face CommPatients’. Soledad Quero and her students from the Universitat Jaume I in Spain presented two posters: Expectations and Satisfaction with Traditional CBT versus CBT supported by ICTs & An Online Self-Applied Program for Drug Use Prevention in Adolescents (PREVEN-TIC FORMATIVO): the Professionals’ Assessment.

Congratulations and thank you to the winners for their dedication and passion in moving CYPSY forward.

VRMI Attends Biofeedback Federation of Europe Meeting

BFE Photo


Communication Director Chelsie Boyd attended the Biofeedback Federation of Europe Meeting in Venice recently. The five day meeting included workshops and a Scientific Day where the latest research in the field was presented. Many participants took advantage of their time in Italy to enjoy a few sights and and experience the warmth of our Italian hosts. The different backgrounds of the partcipants made an  exchange of knowledge possible which gives space for new ideas in treating  clients or setting up research projects. The scientific program with tracks in Italian, neurofeedback and biofeedback made a real exchange of information possible.
CYPSY19 – Call For Papers

19th Annual

CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy and Social Networking Conference (CYPSY19)

Connecting the Virtual and the Real:

Transforming Health & Well-being

June 17-19, 2014       Washington, D.C.



Abstract Submission Deadline: January 1, 2014
Full Paper Submission Deadline: March 15, 2014

The 19th Annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY19) will take place on June 17-19, 2014 in Washington, D.C..  Jointly organised by the Interactive Media Institute, in collaboration with the Virtual Reality Medical Institute, Uniformed Services University, and International Association of CyberPsychology, Training & Rehabilitation, the conference is an international networking and sharing platform for researchers, clinicians, policymakers, funding agents and industry leaders to share and discuss advancements in advanced technologies, such as Virtual Reality, and healthcare.  The conference will explore how these technologies are changing individual behavior, societal relationships, and interpersonal interactions.

We are honored to have U.S. Congresswoman Grace Napolitano as our opening Keynote Speaker. Congresswoman Napolitano revitalized the Congressional Mental Health Caucus and has hosted congressional briefings on children’s mental health, veterans’ mental health, and suicide prevention.

To submit your abstract, please visit our website shortly at interactivemediainstitute.com/CYPSY19 or submit directly here. For further information, please contact the conference coordinator, Chelsie Boyd, at cybertherapy@vrphobia.com.

Because of the international nature of CYPSY19 and the expanded focus of its theme, we recognize the importance of extending our invitation to participants around the world interested and dedicated to enhancing public awareness of how technology can overcome obstacles and increase access to top quality healthcare for all citizens.



First Call for Abstracts 15 Sep. 2013
Abstract Deadline Submission 1 Jan. 2014
Notification of Acceptance/Rejection of Abstract 1 Mar. 2014
Full Paper/Presentation Requirements 15 Mar. 2014
Oral Presenter 2-page CV Deadline 15 Mar. 2014
Early Registration Deadline 15 Apr. 2014
Late Registration Deadline 1 Jun. 2014


CYPSY19 Tentative Schedule


17 June – Preconference Workshops

17 June – Full day Clinician Training on VR and Physiology to Treat PTSD

18 Conference – Conference Day 1


Poser Session

19 June – Conference Day 2

Gala Dinner


Abstract and Presentation Themes

CYPSY19 focus areas include:

1.  The Impact of Technologies as Tools

CYPSY19 will continue its examination of the exciting applications of advanced technologies being used in training, therapy, rehabilitation, and education for the improvement of the quality and availability of healthcare for people around the globe.

2. The Influence of New Technologies

CYPSY19 will further its investigation into how new technologies are influencing behavior and society through the use of positive technology, healthy ageing and well-being.

3. The Imprint of Social Networking

CYPSY19 will embrace, as it did in 2012, the exploration of how social networking tools are changing individual behavior, interpersonal relationships, and society.

4. The Introduction of New Technologies and New Terms

CYPSY19 will study the psychological aspects of new areas influenced by technology such as cyberfashion, cyberadvertising and cyberstalking.

Encouraged Topics

Encouraged topics include but are not limited to:

• Advanced Interaction Training

• Videogames

• Telehealth & Telepresence

• Video‐conferencing

• Robotics

• Brain Computer Interfaces

• Cognitive Rehabilitation & Therapy

• Wearable computing

• Non-invasive physiological monitoring devices

• Positive Technology

• Social Networking in Healthcare

• Information Technologies

• Social implications of Facebook, Twitter, etc.

• Neurorehabilitation

• Mobile healthcare

• Cyberbullying

• Health Applications

• Healthy Ageing

• Games for Health

• Serious Games

• Apps for Kids

Abstract and Presentation Types

You can submit an abstract to one of the following three types of communications:

·      Poster

·      Oral

·      Early Innovators Session

Oral presentations are 15 minutes whereas presentations in the Early Innovators Session, the panel dedicated to student presentations, are 10 minutes.

Submission of Abstracts and Papers

If you would like to present a poster, an oral presentation or a student oral presentation at CYPSY19, please submit an abstract for the Scientific Committee to review based off of the guidelines below. Workshops submissions are by invitation only.

Review Procedure: Each submission is peer-reviewed and will be selected based on scientific merit. Abstracts should clearly outline results from scientific studies. All presentations must contain original and scientifically valid information. Reports on completed research are clearly favored over descriptions of planned research. Commercial promotion and funding requests are not appropriate. The Scientific Committee will blindly review all abstracts and may invite author(s) to make a poster presentation at the conference even if they requested an oral presentation. The oral/poster/reject decision is at the discretion of the Scientific Committee.

Abstract Preparation:

·      Required structure: Title, Author/s, Affiliation/s, Short Abstracts (250 words), Keywords, Introduction/Problem, Method/Tools, Results, Conclusion. You must adhere to the document format requirements of IOS Press.

·      Novelty/Discussion: Please cover what makes this research different from prior work by you or by others. Please focus on the most unique aspect of your research, instead of broad implications.

·      References: Optional but appreciated. Please use ONLY the IOS Press standard bibliographic format (see instructions and below).

·      File formats: Acceptable formats are Word 97, Word 2000, or Word XP format (.doc). No .docx or LaTeX, please.

·      The conference is in English and all abstracts will need to be in English. Please check spelling and grammar as your abstract will be printed in the conference syllabus.

·      Please visit IOS Press to download the instructions. Abstracts that do not meet the required criteria will be sent back to the author to be re-formatted.

Abstract and Full Paper Publication

·      Presenters are required to submit a 2-page extended abstract which should include a short abstract (250 words).

·      For those who present their oral/student abstract in person, their full paper will be published in the Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine, indexed in PsycINFO.

Presenter Requirements:

·      Oral presentations are to be 15 minutes long plus 5 minutes for questions. Student presentations are 10 minutes long plus 5 minutes for questions.

·      Presenters must register for the conference. There is a limit of one oral/symposium presentation per first author per registration. For a full paper to be published in IOS Press, the study must be presented in person at the conference. Any absences will result in forfeiture of registration costs as well as an automatic rejection in the inclusion of the full paper in the Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine. (ARCTT)

Student Symposium

Sponsored by the iACToR Student SIG, the Student Symposium will provide students an opportunity to have a dedicated session during the conference. Please see above for the abstract submission guidelines.

Online Submission

When you are ready to submit your abstract, please visit http://www.interactivemediainstitute.com/CYPSY19 or here. More information will be asked during submission of your abstract, such as name of the author, affiliation, and if your study is completed or still in progress.

For more information regarding abstract submission or the call of papers, please email cybertherapy@vrphobia.com.

CYBER18 Highlights
The 18th annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference was held in Brussels, Belgium. From June 30 – July 2, 2013. The official conference of the International Association of Cyberpsychology, Training & Rehabilitation (iACToR) hosted prominent academic representatives from 15 countries including The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Canada, Portugal and the United States. iACToR’s Secretary General and conference host Professor Brenda K. Wiederhold, was the Conference Chair. Workshop chair Stéphane Bouchard, Ph.D. began the preconference workshops on June 30th. Many attendees joined in on the interactive sessions, which included a wide array of topics including electronic health coaching, virtual reality for mental health, and the relationship between social networks and healthcare. The workshops were a great success and allowed for a lively exchange of ideas and research objectives.

C18 Audience

CYPSY18’s theme, Where Healthcare & Technology Connect, examined applications of advanced technologies being used in training, therapy, rehabilitation, and education for the improvement of the quality and availability of healthcare. Adding to this, attendees talked and shared valuable information about the influence of new technologies and how they impacted behavior and society through the use of positive technology, healthy ageing and well being. The conference shed light on a fairly new phenomenon in the healthcare industry – the imprint of social networking and how these platforms shape individual behavior, interpersonal relationships, and society. The last concept discussed at the conference was the introduction of new technologies and new terms. CYPSY18 studied the psychological aspects of new areas influenced by technology, such as cyberstalking.
For the second year in a row, Robert Madelin officially began the conference after Professor Brenda K. Wiederhold’s welcoming remarks. The Director-General for DG CONNECT discussed “Cyber Everything in Horizon 2020”, in which he described how the program will, in the near future, generate innovation, competitiveness and funding for top level research in the European Union.
The second keynote speaker was Richard M. Satava, Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Washington, Seattle and this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Professor Satava spoke on “Advanced Technologies That Will Change Behaviors – Humanoid Robots, 3-D Printers, and Other Extraordinary Discoveries”, a highly interesting talk on topics surrounding the future of progressive scientific and technological methods.
The first day concluded with a poster session involving Ph.D candidates and professional researchers alike. This was an opportunity for scientists to share their ideas with each other and with interested spectators. In a parallel session, the Cyberarium allowed developers and researchers to present their prototypes to prospective buyers, members of the media, and others in the scientific community. This year, the EU-funded INTERSTRESS project and the Oculus Rift, an up and coming consumer priced virtual reality headset, were among the most popular displays.

C18 Smaller

Two Ph.D. students were presented with the Young Minds Research Award; Fillipo La Paglia and Claudia Carissoli, who presented posters entitled “Neuropsychological Assessment through NeuroVirtual Reality in OCD Patients” and “Mindfulness and New Technologies: Creating and Testing a Brief Protocol to Reduce Stress”, respectively. The New Investigator Award was given to Sungkun Cho for his work in “Body Swapping Training for Patients with CRPS Using a Virtual Body”.
Those of us at the CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation Magazine would like to give a special thanks to all of the professional individuals and student participants who made the conference possible. CYPSY18’s Scientific Committee, Professors Willem-Paul Brinkman, Jose Gutierrez Maldonado, and Giuseppe Riva were people key to the conferences intellectual nature and were instrumental in generating feedback within the community. We would also like to sincerely thank the many institutions and organizations that sponsored the event. Without the support and contributions of the European Commission, eHealth Week, Hanyang University Institute of Aging Society, International Association of CyberPsychology, Training, & Rehabilitation  (iACToR), Interactive Media Institute, INTERSTRESS, ISfTeH, Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Mary Ann Libert, Inc. Publishers, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Universite du Quebec en Outaouais, Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC) and the Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) the event would not have been able to take place.


c18 group small