How can we meet up with the person we once were, then with who we are today and finally with who we will be tomorrow, so that we can develop the best vision of what life has to offer us and find ways of meeting our basic needs?
This was the question we asked ourselves when we started working on this process. It led us to FRED.
FRED immerses the individuals we accompany into a peaceful and comfortable environment in which they can move around unhampered. It is a tool we use to assess and accompany an individual through their Life Mapping process. It is a non-intrusive virtual reality tool that focuses on the individual and rapidly engages them in thinking about their future in a constructive way.
ARCA developed FRED to be a virtual environment in which the patient creates a concrete representation of how they experience their current life; how they project their future; and how they see their Life Map for moving forward. This is shared in real time with the professional who accompanies them. Because of its immersive nature, FRED provides an intimate and safe space for the individual, that the professional can observe at the same time.
The HTC Vive technology, which is highly interactive and ergonomic, allows the individual to enhance, personalize and organize their environment as they wish. They use elements that represent different areas of their life (family, love relationships, friends, leisure activities, work, aspirations, etc.), and indicate for each one how important these are to them (very, somewhat, not at all, etc.) By concretely creating their Life Map in this way the patient becomes aware of the disconnects between how they are leading their life and what their deep-seated identity is longing for.
FRED then offers the patient the opportunity to take the elements they want and map out their future life. They select the elements that define the life that will meet their basic needs and values, and allow them to align experience to their deep-seated identity. The process of mapping out this future life includes identifying intermediate steps for change-the support systems they need to develop and/or the therapeutic interventions for getting there (EMDR, TCC). From one session to the next, the patient modifies their Life Map, providing a concrete illustration of their progress with the professional.
The virtual reality nature of FRED provides individuals with new possibilities: -a feeling of safety that comes from being in a environment that is totally controlled by the individual and by the professional; -an alternative to the difficulties of mental imaging so often asked of patients. Instead they can visualize an abstract objective in a peaceful environment, and observe how their own actions play out in problem situations. FRED is also an alternative, or complement, to the use of words; -an opportunity for total autonomy in deciding which elements and tools to use; -space between the individual and the professional, enabling greater introspection and facilitating expression.
FRED has been designed specifically for individuals with social and/or psychological vulnerabilities: socially marginal individuals, authors and victims of offenses, trauma-informed individuals, addiction-informed individuals, etc.
Note: The manufacturer has recommended using the material with individuals over 13 years of age. A list of things to watch out for is also available in the user manual..
ARCA uses FRED with patients in consultation in Tours and Lyon. We also train mental health professionals to use this tool within the framework of the ORACLE program. And we provide training to organizations that deliver restorative mediation services.
The basic FRED protocol supports the participant as they develop their Life Map and reflect on their social identity and openness to change.
These issues are relevant for various therapeutic approaches and with different individuals. Trained professionals can therefore adapt FRED to support their own clinical needs and practices.