Currently, these programs are in use in Hämeenlinna, Jyväskylä and Oulu prisons. The Virtual Forest program developed by the University of Tampere has been used in sessions led by a prison psychologist. The program has been helpful for relaxation and mood regulation.
HUS has created virtual reality programs to manage anxiety, which have been utilized with inmates who experience fear of public places or panic disorder-like symptoms. The feedback from both prisoners and staff directing the programs has been positive and there is a demand for the programs.
Virtual reality can be used to practice everyday situations
The latest collaboration in VR rehabilitation is with the company Virtual Dawn. The company’s programs make it possible to practice everyday situations from which release benefits the prisoners. Virtual reality can be used to simulate situations such as challenging encounters, interactions with authorities, receiving feedback and job interviews. The programs are tested in Jyväskylä prison and systematic feedback is collected from the prisoners participating in the trial.
“The pilot is intended to be implemented, among other things, in the new unit for young adults and possibly as part of the rehabilitative work activities of the prison workshop,” says the psychologist. Laura Jernbergwho directs the pilot program in Jyväskylä prison.
VR rehabilitation has been implemented in prisons and forensic psychiatric institutions for several years, and scientific research has been conducted on the subject, e.g. in Holland.
“In the penal institution, VR rehabilitation has been a valuable addition to other rehabilitative work. I believe that these methods will also increase in the future, not only in psychiatry, psychology and various therapies and treatment methods, but also for educational purposes.”, says Pia PuolakkaCriminal Sanctions Agency expert.
The use of virtual reality in prisoner rehabilitation is an innovative approach that has the potential to enhance the reintegration process and prepare individuals for life after incarceration. By providing a safe and controlled environment to practice real-life situations, virtual reality can equip prisoners with the skills and confidence necessary to successfully transition back into society. As the technology develops, VR-based interventions may become more common in correctional systems worldwide.
Source: The Nordic Page