THERA Inc. : Taking therapy to a new world.

by Erin Bogdanski

We are developing nurturing spaces in virtual reality to provide environments for healing and talk therapy with avatar technology.
Emeryville, CA United States Mental Health Alternative Therapies

All Team Company Patients Physicians Hospital Mission Innovation Details Supporters Comments Updates

About our project

The problem we solve: 1 out of 5 adolescents will be diagnosed with depression in the US. Currently we are seeing a rise in suicidal ideation and self harming more then ever in our country. At this stage in our project our aim is to support teens and young adults who are suffering and to disrupt the over medicating of children . THERA is a distress tolerance tool which a youngster can use and have live counseling in virtual reality with a real therapist. The problem is many kids do not ask for help, or turn to their resources when in distress. However they feel more comfortable with technology and feel this is more anonymous. How can we reduce and prevent these suicidal and self harming relapses?

About our solution: THERA is providing live counseling in virtual reality using avatar technology. Our solution is to combine the concept of how youngsters feel more comfortable using technology and bridging that gap by incorporating real counseling in dyadic form. The client also has the option of customizing their avatar therapist to make it feel as comfortable as possible.

Progress to date:

We are in the beta testing process of our development. At this time we have a licensed clinician testing THERA with a teenager who suffers from severe depression and self harming. After 4 trials of using THERA in 50 minute session there has been an increase in positive emotions, increased energy and motivation. We are currently recruiting more therapists to test THERA and to eventually have our metrics response ready upon 12 sessions after using product. Our partners are medical advisors in the feild of VR. ( Dr. Skip Rizzo, Dr. Walter Greenleaf, and Dr. Vince Felleti). We held our first launch event where our advisors and members of the community came to experience the dyadic experience using THERA. At this time we are currently raising our seed funding to build and develop the new VR spaces in Unity and Web XR to support environment where clients can come to talk to their therapist in avatar form. 

I will attached both photos of the designs and as well links to our demos on YouTube and LinkedIn. 

About Our Team

Creator: Erin Bogdanski

Location: California

Education: Santa Clara University

Bio: I'm a psychotherapist who has launched a mental health start up called THERA Inc. I have been a mental health practitioner for 5 years with a background in helping high risk adolescents who are self harming and suicidal. I have work for community mental health, private practice and outpatient. I also have a background in law, business, tech and education.

Title: Founder

Advanced Degree(s): MA

About Team Members

Saro Nikraz
VR Designer , PHD University of Southern California
Biography: Saro has a background in VR design and strategic relations. He is a guru when it comes to designing in Unity and has a background in medical device technology. Saro takes the lead in designing the therapy spaces which will tentatively help with depression, anxiety and distress tolerance.
Title: VR Designer
Advanced Degree(s): PHD University of Southern California
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/saronikraz/

Armand Aguirre
VR Evangelist , Art Institute of San Franscisco
Biography: Passionate about creating the future and collaborating on building the next digital platform for the human evolution. Armand has been the educator, producer and marketing agent behind THERA. Armand can show anyone who has be never used VR and make them feel comfortable.
Title: VR Evangelist
Advanced Degree(s): Art Institute of San Franscisco

About Our Company

Thera Inc.

Location: Apt. 524 5855 Horton Street, Emeryville, CA, 94608
US
Emeryville, CA 94608

Founded: 2016

Website: https://theravr.io/

Product Stage: Idea

YTD Sales: Working on it

Employees: 3-5

How We Help Patients

We are providing spaces in virtual reality where patients can talk to their therapist to practice harm reduction, meditation and self soothing. 

How We Help Physicians

We are providing virtual offices for theapist who can build their case load using THERA.  THERA provides an opportunity for therapist who can work from home or their private practice and build their practice on a VR platform. Therapists can book their clients using their laptop , smart phone or tablet and schedule their clients as needed. THERA also supports therapists who parents and can be more flexible around balancing family and work. 

How We Help Hospitals

We can provide as an adjunct tool for paitents in distress in inpatient and outpaitent settings. As well we can provide THERA to community mental health clinics and chemical dependency units to reduce risk and relapse. 

Challenge Mission

Affiliation(s)

Stanford University Brainstorm Dr. Tom Insel , Dr. Walter Greenleaf USC School of Creative Technologies Dr. Skip Rizzo Kaiser Permanante Department of Preventative Medicine Dr. Vince Felliti

Key Milestones Achieved and Planned

We are half way through our beta testing and are getting remarkable results. We are getting referrals and client interest in using THERA since we started our first launch. Our hope is to sign up 20 - 30 new users in the next 6 months. As well our hope is to have our front end app developed within 4 months using smart phone/ device technology.

Our Competitive Advantages

What makes THERA different from our competitors is that we are providing live counseling in a dyadic experience. Most of the VR companies are only providing a " one way" experience to the client , with just a clinical view of the therapist witnessing the patient's experience. Since THERA is providing a new way to prevent a child from going into self harm or suicidal thoughts , it is important for them to not feel alone. After testing THERA with it's first client , her initial response was to say " I did not feel alone, I felt good and " .... " helped me feel the courage to talk about the voices in my head". Our stakeholders are the therapists, practitioners and psychiatrists who are battling with how to help stop over medicating children. My other stakeholders are the tech industry , specifically VR , AI , and AR. New stakeholder groups could be CEOs of hospitals , clinical directors and institutes such as cancer clinics and rehabilitation centers for additions.

Barriers to Entry

We have not filed our patent, because we are still in seed stage. Patent technology is secured under my development team in Silicon Valley as well with my patent attorney based in Washington DC. We do not expect barriers to entry with our product since the need is so great to use our product. Our competitors are those who are gamers, technophiles and MBAs. Unlike any other company THERA is actually created by a therapist , psychologist who understands the clinical, as well the ethical and clinical risks involved. My tech team who are currently and formally with medical advance technology are bridging that significant barrier to entry. My prediction is 5 years based on the climate change in the American health care system.

Funding, Partners and Alliances To Date

I have bootstrapped THERA Inc. with my own finances, friends and family , as well have recognition from my advisors listed above. We are in the process of getting being affiliated from all private practice practitioners in the state of California with the intention of getting recognition with state run , privately run hospitals in behavioral and mental health. Our partners to date our High Fidelity in SF. Stanford University Brainstorm , and USC Center for Creative Technologies. Currently we are working with 2020 Startups in NYC to raise our first series. We shall be demonstrating, and continuing out beta testing.

Innovation Details

Intellectual Property Summary

We are in the process of patenting our technology once developed front end and back end has secured. We have a patent lawyer and since there are two pieces to our technology through front end development and back end development were are still in this stage. 

Clinical Information

We are beta testing at this time under the supervision of Dr. Skip Rizzo of USC Center for Creative Technologies. Are hypotheisis is after 12, 50 minutes sessions there will be an increase in positive emotions within the tester. We are not claiming to " cure" diagnosises but to provide distress tolerance and prevention. As we continue to recruit more clients ( children and teens) we will continue to beta test in environments attached on the previous page in virtual reality. 

 

Regulatory Status

We are not FDA approved. We are still in beta testing and are collecting our data as interaction user design feedback forms are provided to the client after the completion of each session. 

How we will use the funds raised

Funding will go to support the development of the VR spaces, coders and HIPPA compliant encryption for the front end. Since this is a health tech platform funding will go towards the recruitment of licensed clinicians to continue testing and providing services in the VR rooms. Furthermore my hope is funding will go towards hiring the medical team, and to support our clinical advisors who are behind the project. 

Thank You

This is my personal message behind this project. I'm a psychotherapist who has worked in both private practice and in the medical model for five years. During the last two years I worked with children and teens who were 51/50 into inpatient environments and I would counsel these kids who were obsessed with suicide and self harming. As shift happened within me to ask " why are children thinking this way? " , what is happening to our youth who have no resilience or desire to get through hard times? As I researched and discovered the healing benefits of virtual reality as well as the impact of technology as a social platfrom to help kids feel connected, heard and nurtured I wanted to combine my profession with this tool. My hypothesis is that is we can teach and heal kids using virtual reality and provide nurturing space where they can talk to a licensed therapist that they will gravitate more to these enviornments because it using technology. With the feeling of being anonymous being in avatar form they may feel that they can ' open up" more in this space and trust the environment. Since the client can customize their avatar therapist this also provides a layer of feeling comfortable talking to a stranger and may even allow the client to develop report. For example , if a child who has extreme trauma may feel uncomfortable speaking to an older male therapist ( trigger) , that child can make their therapist look like their teddy bear. But the truth is behind the teddy bear is the actual therapist whose role is to provide talk therapy and interventions to support that child. The solutions to using this tool are endless and my hope is that eventually THERA will be used to not just help kids and teens, but also young adult, families, and the elderly. My hope is that those who are at end of life or pallative care can use THERA to go into spaces where they can practice meditation or prayer, or THERA could also be used to teach at risk populations to practice compassion, and reduce anxiety and depression.  For more information on our vision here is our company profile. https://gust.com/companies/thera

I just a therapist with a vision and backed by those who are passionate about using virtual reality for humanity. Thank you for considering us. 

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Updates

  • THERA Inc presented at WeWork NYC
    THERA was demonstrated with several other VR companies at the Innovations in VR/AR meet up in NYC on October 16th. We had an amazing turnout of those who support VR and AR and we able to have folks at the event experience THERA ! Thank you to all of those who supported us.

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Erin Bogdanski
Founder
Santa Clara University

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