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Center for Deployment Psychology Wins Award for Virtual Insomnia Therapy Feature

A virtual lobby room called the "Snoozeum." There is a globe in the middle and doorways to areas labeled "Disorders" "Assessment" and "Treatment"
By Sharon Holland

The Uniformed Services University’s Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) was awarded the bronze medal in the International Serious Play Awards for an innovative tool to help behavioral health providers address deployment-related sleep disruption in service members and veterans.

CDP received the award during the 2020 Serious Play Conference, June 25.  The annual leadership conference is geared to creators of serious games and simulations and those who implement game-based learning programs. In addition to game industry developers and designers, attendees include leaders and researchers from academia, healthcare, government/military, museums and other areas.

The International Serious Play Awards are given for both digital and board game learning in a number of categories, including corporate/vocational, healthcare/medical, local and state government/military, pre-K education, K-12 education, higher education, museum/visitor centers, and other.

A virtual man stands in front of three boards with text on them
Feedback screens summarize the performance of behavioral healthcare providers being trained by USU's Center for
Deployment Psychology through their "Snoozeum/Build a Bedroom" virtual platform. (Image by USU Center for
Deployment Psychology)

CDP’s bronze medal -- in the healthcare category -- was accepted on their behalf by Dr. Kevin Holloway, the director of the Center’s Training and Education division and Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine contract employee, for his submission of “Augmenting Behavioral Health Provider Training in Second Life.”  Second Life is a commercially-available, online virtual world that allows users to design and develop sites ranging from homes to concerts to tourist attractions, restaurants and bars, educational institutions and more.  Some of the sites are used for entertainment; others, like CDP’s PTSD Learning Center and Snoozeum, are used for training in the immersive virtual environment. The PTSD Learning Center and the Snoozeum were developed as interactive sites for behavioral health providers to explore at their own pace, without limiting them by time or geographic location.

The Snoozeum is a virtual museum in Second Life featuring interactive displays and activities related to sleep and deployment-related sleep disruption.  While it is intended as an adjunct to CDP's two-day training workshop in Cognitive-behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, it also can be a stand-alone experience for visitors wanting to learn more about these topics.  The self-guided experience culminates in a simulated clinical intervention for insomnia with an automated avatar, drawing on all of the learning the visitor collects throughout the museum.  The award was given for CDP’s “Build A Bedroom” feature in the Snoozeum, which is an interactive display/game that teaches concepts of sleep hygiene, or optimizing the sleep environment to promote healthy sleep.


A virtual man stands in a virtual bedroom. The walls are white and a bed is in the corner of the room opposite a desk with a laptop facing a window.
USU's Center for Deployment Psychology uses a virtual immersive platform to train behavioral healthcare providers
who see service members and veterans. CDP earned a bronze medal for their "Build a Bedroom" virtual site that
addresses deployment-related sleep disorders. (Image by USU Center for Deployment Psychology)

“In this display, visitors/players go through a series of three bedroom scenarios, identifying potential barriers to healthy sleep and correcting them to promote healthy sleep,” said Holloway.  “In a way, they are building the best bedroom environment for a particular simulated patient.  Visitors receive feedback regarding how many of the possible barriers to good sleep they identify and correctly fix them.”

According to Holloway, the virtual tool has been well received by providers.

“After integrating a tour of the virtual world experiences into workshops, civilian providers working with military-connected patients across diverse U.S. locations shared qualitative feedback on these learning environments, with most reporting it as highly engaging and useful for reinforcing skills learned in training workshops,” he said.

“The Center for Deployment Psychology has been working for years to develop innovative tools and methods to better prepare behavioral health providers to care for service members, veterans and their families. These efforts encompass a range of interactive synchronous and asynchronous learning tools and workshops delivered across a variety of platforms,” said Dr. David Riggs, CDP executive director and chair of the Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology at USU.  “It is tremendously gratifying that, for the second consecutive year, one of our learning tools has been recognized with an award at the Serious Play conference.”


A virtual man stands in a bedroom. There is a poster of headphones on the wall above a cabinet with a stereo. There is a benchpress in the corner and books on a shelf on the wall.
Helping behavioral healthcare providers identify barriers to a good night's rest is one of the goals of the Center for
Deployment Psychology "Snoozeum" virtual training platform. (Image by USU Center for Deployment Psychology)