From avatars to body swapping: The use of virtual reality for assessing and treating body-size distortion in individuals with anorexia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the last 30 years, virtual reality (VR) has offered innovative solutions for assessing and treating body representation disturbances in anorexia nervosa (AN). The most recent and innovative trend is the exploitation of the so-called VR-based body swapping illusion. The aim of this case study was to report the use of this VR protocol within a multidisciplinary treatment of AN. A patient with a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-5 diagnosis of AN underwent an intensive multidisciplinary outpatient treatment. Three sessions of a VR-based body swapping illusion (i.e., the experimental induction of being the owner of a virtual body as a result of a visuotactile stimulation) were delivered within the treatment protocol (i.e., beginning of the treatment; end of one cycle of the treatment; 1 year of follow-up). We report the results obtained, discussing how the VR full body illusion was both able to effectively monitor changes of multisensory bodily integration and to act as a driver for these changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-322
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2019



  • anorexia nervosa
  • avatar
  • body-size distortion
  • full body illusion
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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