In 2020, human services integrate virtual tools into service delivery. Virtual counseling and therapy (where live professionals are replaced by avatars) supplements conventional in-person therapy. Virtual reality is used to treat addiction, substance abuse and smoking; by reacting to cues in a virtual environment, patients can build coping mechanisms that kick in when they encounter similar situations in real life. Virtual methods complement in-person interactions, but do not replace them.
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Zach Rosenthal an assistant professor with Duke University has developed a virtual reality simulator to help drug addicts develop coping strategies. The program is jointly funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Department of Defense.