Virtual Training for Psychosis

Idea behind:

houseThe aim of this project was to develop a teaching scenario for psychiatry students that will allow them to:

  • simulate a home visit for a psychiatry student,
  • practice dealing with distressed and disturbed patients,
  • practice history taking from such patients,
  • go through a simulation of a similar psychosis in order to gain a better understanding of what such patients may experience

The scenario allows the students to explore and interact with the environment and patient instead of being presented with a list of options, as in the traditional narrative online Virtual Patients.

Description of Scenario:

psychosis_1The scenario is fully developed and running with the virtual world Second Life on the St George’s University Island. The students are given information on how to log in to the virtual world and be directed to the scenario from information provided on their virtual learning environment. Once students are inside Second Life they are given their role, and told to proceed to the home of the patient.

The student will be a psychiatrist, doing an urgent home visit on Mr Schneider, a 22 year old man, as requested by his GP. The patient is dishevelled and unshaven. The house itself is untidy, and a selection of newspapers, weapons and roll ups are laid out on the table. The student will have to talk to the patient, to try and gather history and a clearer idea of his symptoms. The environment itself will provide important cues to his state of mind. Once the student has progressed through the scenario and elicited as much information as possible,
they will be able to compare their summary with that of a qualified psychosis_2psychiatrist.

The student will also have the opportunity to take the perspective of the patient by visual and audio hallucinations manipulating the same physical space. Some of the experiences include:

  • Derogatory voices
  • Intermittent cameras appearing
  • Voices on TV talking about the patient
  • Seeing the patient’s name in the newspaper on the table
  • Intermittently seeing the neighbours at the window


Students and staff have been given basic training in using the platform. The application was already installed on University computers, and so students had been able to access the scenarios through any St George’s computer. Furthermore, Second Life is free to download,thus any student that wished to could access it from their own personal computer or laptop.