“Lieutenant Rocco’s recently returned from deployment in Iraq and he’s having trouble acclimating. He sits near the edge of a sofa in his social worker’s office, still dressed in fatigues, and sporting a buzz cut. Even though he says he’s okay, he admits to getting flack from his boss about his lack of productivity and that he’s arguing with his wife. “There are things I don’t want to talk about with her. Things I can’t get out of my head,” he says.
The more you listen in on Lieutenant Rocco’s session, the easier it becomes to forget the slightly odd cadences of his speech and the blocky outlines of his clothing which point out that the Lieutenant isn’t a real person. He’s a digital avatar designed to be a training tool as part of University of Southern California School of Social Work’s curriculum for the Master of Social Work degree with a Sub-concentration in Military Social Work. A virtual patient like Lieutenant Rocco teaches prospective counselors how to deal with soldiers returning from duty where they may have witnessed life-altering atrocities.”
BY LYDIA DISHMAN at Fast Company
Images/video courtesy USC Institute for Creative Technologies