The therapy, previously tested by healthy volunteers, was used by 15 depression patients aged 23-61.
    
Nine reported reduced depressive symptoms a month after the therapy, of whom four experienced a clinically significant drop in depression severity, researchers said.
    
In the study by University College London and ICREA-University of Barcelona, patients wore a virtual reality headset to see from the perspective of a life-size 'avatar' or virtual body.
    
Seeing this virtual body in a mirror moving in the same way as their own body typically produces the illusion that this is their own body. This is called 'embodiment'.
    
After a few minutes the patients were embodied in the virtual child and saw the adult avatar deliver their own compassionate words and gestures to them.
    
This brief eight-minute scenario was repeated three times at weekly intervals, and patients were followed up a month later.

The study was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open.

 

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