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"Avatars in Therapy" Conference

Liverpool, 28th Feb 2019

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Dr Julie Carlisle and Dr Jonathan Hurlow thought it would be a good idea to get those using ProReal together so that they could share learnings and establish a level of collaboration and joint working which are sometimes hard to achieve across NHS Trusts. Here’s what happened……

"What a brilliant day! Thank you to all who made the journey. Must also say a huge thank you to Richie Harkness for co-ordinating and project managing perfectly.”

“I'm impressed with the work stream approach Birmingham & Solihull MH FT service have embraced, and I think you're a great role model for psychiatry and MDTs embracing ProReal to consider the patient experience.” said Dr Julie Carlisle

“Today the ideas and discussion had a buzz and spark which elevated this to somewhere exciting. I have no doubt that in years to come not utilising digital technology in mental health clinical practice will be the exception and we will all be proud to have contributed to what can reasonably be called a paradigm shift. Battling to make this happen in the real world can be draining and it is sometimes hard to see this, but today was a moment of clarity.” said Dr Jonathon Hurlow

On the 28th February 2019, ProReal Pioneers from MerseyCare NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust as well as a leading commercial organisation in probation services spent a day together in Liverpool. They came from a wide range of backgrounds with representation from psychology, social care, psychiatry, nursing, IT, project management and the Global Digital Exemplar programme.

After a brief opening, the day started with a powerful and moving video with service users sharing how they have experienced ProReal – where it has helped them to ‘find their voice’ and to ‘set out difficult thoughts and feelings.

"Doing things on a computer has allowed me to go express myself.”

"It has been really helpful to see it on screen - it brings your problems to life, come to the forefront and then you can deal with them.”

"I’ve learned – it's OK to be vulnerable” Sevice Users about using ProReal

“It was wonderful to hear a Service User talk about being vulnerable when probably most of those who are good ProReal Facilitators have themselves experienced some degree of vulnerability when using the software. The emphasis on helping make visible only the way the Service Users makes sense of things can be a challenge.” David Tinker

We’ve attached a similar video here as an example...


Each team then explained how they were approaching their own use of ProReal. This session really helped each team think about their own projects given the knowledge and understanding of the other approaches.

Therapeutic modalities & interventions

A highlight of the afternoon was the input from ProReal’s Technical Lead, David Littlewood, who set out the development path for the technology. He went through the key initiatives, such as WebGL and tablet versions, the tablet voice-input functionality and guided self-help. There was also discussion here about online use – particularly how non-clinical users were using ProReal remotely for international coaching and online team working. See the example of the guided self-help:



“Our team went home ‘buzzing’ after the event – we often tend to focus on the issues and challenges, and here were six teams using ProReal and making a real difference to people’s lives. It was inspiring and humbling in equal measure. We can’t wait for the next one!“ Andrew Jackson

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