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Avatar therapy reduces auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia, trial finds

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 24 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5458
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

An experimental form of therapy involving a conversation between a patient with schizophrenia and a computer generated avatar representing the patient’s auditory hallucinations reduces symptoms more effectively than standard counselling, a trial has shown.1

Auditory hallucinations are common in schizophrenia, as 60-70% of patients “hear voices” that are typically derogatory, and around a quarter of patients continue to experience them despite treatment. Cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis is helpful, but this generally takes time to be effective and achieves only limited benefit in some patients.

“A large proportion of people with schizophrenia continue to experience distressing voices despite lengthy treatment, so it is important that we look at newer, effective and shorter forms …

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