In this article we will touch few topics:

What is the stress?

Training refers to a learning process, an opportunity to change and improve oneself. In this respect, one way could be to optimize one’s ability to handle the difficulties that life poses. Very often these are the cause of what in psychophysiology is called stress, which is the normal response of the individual to pressure from the environment (external and internal, physical and psychic). Closely related to this, there is a way of acting that can be learned and optimized through training identified with the term resilience: the ability of the individual to cope with traumatic events and reorganize his or her life positively.

It is important to point out that the body’s response depends on how these stressors are perceived (real danger), or on expectations of threat that create anxiety (perception of danger).

A distinction should be made here: stress is not always negative; on the contrary, we speak of eustress and distress. In the first case, it is an adaptive response to environmental conditions or events, which can save the individual’s life in the face of real danger; in the second case, there is a condition of (real or perceived) imbalance between the stressor and the ability to cope with it. In the latter situation, the threat is generally of such a magnitude as to cause an emotional shock and may lead to major problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and other stress-related distressing situations for the individual (stress disorders).

An attitude closely linked to this type of difficult situation, which allows the individual to regain his balance, is the resilient attitude. The studies on resilience arose from the observation of several children who, despite being exposed to various risk factors and consequently the high probability of subsequent psychosocial problems, still managed to form stable relationships in adulthood, committed to the world of work and their fellow human beings, thus leading a fulfilling life despite their tortuous past.

Scholars at this point wondered how it was possible to open up a strand of studies on the knowledge of prevention and protection factors that can influence proper development. The term resilience is used in physics to refer to a body that resists impact and then returns to its original shape. In biology, it refers to the ability to repair oneself after damage. In psychology, resilience refers to “the ability of an individual to withstand the shocks of life without breaking or cracking, while maintaining and enhancing his or her personal and social resources” (Oliverio Ferraris, 2003).

It has also been defined as “the ability to cope with stressful events, overcome them and continue to develop by increasing one’s resources with a consequent positive reorganization of life” (Malaguti, 2005). Thus, it could be said that resilience puts the individual in a position to grow and develop his or her potential effectively even in the presence of risk factors, the stressors mentioned above. Beware of believing, however, that resilience is an infallible and ubiquitous “weapon” because even resilient people can have difficulty overcoming trauma and other risk factors in life. Stress and resilience are two closely related concepts.  

The first thing I would like to draw your attention to is how to create interventions that promote resilience and stress management: I mean it is good not to focus only on the specific problem, but always consider the needs, the resources of the person or group you are going to act on, the context in which you are operating. In fact, for this very reason, the most effective approaches are those that place the individual at the center of the process, starting precisely from his or her resources with the aim of strengthening them and acquiring new ones.

Experience is the driving force behind training in this area, as people are given the opportunity to get involved, to experience their emotions in contact with others through specific activities. The next step is to compare what happened and the resources used. A reflection that contributes to becoming aware of what happens and what one is able to do, with the aim of increasing self-confidence is closely linked to resilience.

How to manage stress

Key mental training techniques (positive thinking, self-talk, relaxation, imagery) aimed at creating individualized pathways are also effective in this area. In my opinion, this customized training can also be built and applied in the workplace and in everyday life; yes, because especially in today’s society where innovation is running rampant and pressures are increasing, we often talk about performance and higher and higher levels of performance are required. Moreover, if we think of the emergency period we are living in, things have changed and consequently so has our way of life. 

Nowadays these stress trainings have changed and more and more online training have to be designed. The greatest difficulty, in this case, is not being able to guarantee the active participation of the person: technology, in particular virtual reality, has come to our aid. It allows us to create paths to strengthen individual resources (self-esteem, management of emotions), rehabilitation paths, guaranteeing a high degree of interactivity, and active experimentation, thanks to the use of visors and advanced software. 

Virtual reality has been used, for instance, for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, especially in the military context. The guiding principle of this treatment seems to be the gradual re-introduction to the experiences that triggered the trauma (Paulson and Krippner, 2007). “Virtual rehabilitation” strongly increases the enjoyment, involvement, and motivation of the patient (Morganti, 2004), possessing the characteristics of intensity and repetitiveness typical of traditional protocols, with the characteristic of being “task-oriented”. A very recent example is the Cerebrum app, which allows the user to be immersed in experiential situations that simulate everyday reality, useful to work on resources and difficulties of the users.

So, what are the real advantages of virtual reality in this field? These advantages are generalizable to other areas of psychology and can be summarized by the following concepts: transferability of learning, controlled environment, objective measurement of behavior, visualization, personalized treatment. The key aspect is that all factors involved in the interaction with new technologies can be controlled and manipulated, ensuring the reproducibility of the evidence (Tarr and Warren, 2002). 

I would like to conclude this chapter by stating that virtual reality is an important means of prevention and learning, which allows one to live an experience directly, to “immerse” oneself in the concrete situation, virtually simulated. The content of this multisensory interface (involving sight, hearing but also movement) allows participants to live individualized and emotionally involving experiences, in a controlled context, learning from them and bringing them back to the real environment (transferability of learning). 

This is what we want to provide with Vrainers. Helping professionals to use new technologies to improve and exercises stress management.


Bertetti, B., 2008. Oltre il maltrattamento: La resilienza come capacità di superare il trauma.Milano: Franco Angeli. 

Cyrulnik, B., & Malaguti, E., 2005. Costruire la resilienza: La riorganizzazione positiva della vita e la creazione di legami significativi.Trento: Erikson. 

Dohrenwend, B. S., 1978. Social stress and community psychology. American Journal of Community Psychology, 6, 1-14.    

Flach, F. F., 1988. Resilience: Discovering a new strength at times of stress.New York: Ballantine. 

Goncalves R, Pedrozo AL, Coutinho ES, Figueira I, Ventura P., 2012. Efficacy of virtual reality exposure therapy in the treatment of PTSD: a systematic review. PLoS One 7(12):e48469. 

Book – Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence: Risks and Opportunity


Are machines smarter than humans? What are the properly human capabilities we should focus on?

The primary objective is to understand the advantages and disadvantages of virtual and augmented reality and the differences between human and artificial intelligence. Moving on to a reflection: can creativity, empathy and imagination be reproduced or replicated by an artificial intelligence?

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