Using Virtual Reality to do Life Story Work

There are many established techniques of presenting a child’s Life Story to an adopted child; some children will have a Life Story book. Digital platforms are now being used to safely store memories and photographs and lots of resources are available to help adoptive parents to be the narrator of the child’s story and help them to deal with potentially difficult or upsetting questions.

This week in a workshop with a group of social workers from a regional adoption agency, Cornerstone did some Life Story work using 360 virtual reality experiences of being in utero and seeing the world from a young child’s point of view. Transporting the social workers to the child’s reality using VR helped them to feel how the child might have felt and they were better able to construct narratives and find the words to help their prospective and current adopters with challenging questions.

It was also interesting to see the level of empathy increase for the birth parents in the session as seeing their current situation and then exploring their life story was helpful in putting their behaviour into context. This is especially helpful for adopters in helping their children create links with their past, which has been proven to result in more successful adoptions and less placement breakdowns. Doing the exercise as an RAA also resulted in a lot of knowledge sharing within the group too which they found very useful.

If you are interested in learning more about how Cornerstone uses VR to do Life Story work please do get in touch on

D/sruption - 7 Companies Using Tech To Improve Mental Health

D/sruption -  7 Companies Using Tech To Improve Mental Health

Is your business thinking about mental health?

Mental health is a hugely profitable market. Now that the stigma surrounding mental health issues is gradually lifting, more people are considering the importance of wellbeing. Not only is this an opportunity for businesses to build genuinely useful, lucrative products and services, but it has encouraged companies to look at the wellness of their own employees as a driver for success.

Recognition, however, is not the same as a remedy. If anything, mental health problems are becoming more prominent. By 2030, for example, the World Health Organisation estimates that depression will place the largest single burden on healthcare globally… Here are seven organisations trying to do something about it.

5) The Cornerstone Partnership

The Cornerstone Partnership has developed a number of VR scenarios to help people to understand the mental health of children who have experienced the social care system.

Deploying a whole school approach to trauma awareness using VR

What do teachers, school lunchtime staff, reception, SENCO’s, school nurses all have in common? Yes you have guessed it, working with children. Yet so often only teachers and teaching assistants are offered additional training like trauma awareness. This is a shame as all school staff have contact with children and can benefit from extra support to understand complex child behaviours. Children in the care system or on the edge of care can display very challenging behaviour. These behaviours are often interpreted as naughty and the result of this means that children end up being placed in a pupil referral unit or be permanently excluded. This can severely impact on a child’s future outcomes and for those children who have already experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) it could be devastating.

To ensure that a school has a shared knowledge of trauma and neglect and how this impacts on children’s behaviour in the school setting Cornerstone and Southend Local Authority visited Greenway Primary School last week and ran a 2 day training session on trauma awareness using Cornerstone VR.

There was an evaluation survey conducted before experiencing the VR content and then we will survey the cohort again one month after the VR Trauma Awareness Training to see if there has been a attitudinal shift or any behavioural change at the school. Giving the school staff time to talk, reflect and experience and then have constructive discussion on what they would like to achieve as a school has been a great way to embed the knowledge within the school.

We will follow up this post with some analysis on the data collected by the evaluation in a months time so check in with us then to see what changes have happened in Greenways School. If you are interested in creating more trauma awareness in your organisation get in touch with us on

Can Virtual Reality (VR) really change behaviour?

Can Virtual Reality (VR) really change behaviour? Cornerstone are helping local government embed VR in learning and development programmes as well as real social work practice and have seen this technology radically transform the way people work and think…

The value of VR in training has long been recognised by the military, aerospace and resource industries to simulate situations too risky or impractical to recreate in the real world. VR is also widely used by video gamers and, more recently, the healthcare and automotive sectors have embraced the technology. Less visible has been the emergence of VR in other, traditionally lower tech, industries but that is changing as organisations start to see the potential for training, assessment and even therapy. Most recently VR has made its appearance in the social care and mental health space arena. VR in these instances not only aims to educate but, crucially, to drive behavioural change. Where there is an emotional context to the learning VR has been found to be an extremely effective tool. Enabling the user to ‘experience’ trauma, abuse and neglect through the eyes of a child, but in a safe, controlled space, allows the viewer to feel real emotions such as anger, fear and helplessness. This added emotional layer may make the experience richer and the learning deeper.

 By integrating VR into an intervention such as post-adoption support, Cornerstone VR™ allows social workers to engage with adoptive parents, foster carers and alternative care-givers to examine and reflect on the emotions elicited by the VR experience. We want everyone involved in caring for looked-after children to better understand what might lie behind a child’s behaviour. VR can help all stakeholders, including teachers and the judiciary, replace the notion of a naughty child with that of the traumatised child. 

After piloting for 12 months and working with 30+ local authorities in the UK, we have been very encouraged by the results and are looking at other opportunities where VR may assist interventions into areas which may be a function of early trauma and neglect. Could VR be employed as a preventative measure in children’s social care? What is the potential for working with birth families, care professionals, foster carers as well as children and young people involved with the criminal justice system?  We are confident that the answers lie in extensive research and collaboration with progressive local authorities, charities, academics, educators and law enforcement. We are keen to work with any individuals or organisations who see the potential for technology and skilled practise to deliver better outcomes for children in care. VR takes us a big step towards that ambition.

If you would like to find out more about how our products and services can help you with social work training and practice please contact




Forbes - Five Ways VR Is Making The World A Better Place

Forbes - Five Ways VR Is Making The World A Better Place

Virtual reality can change what a person sees, how they think, what they feel and even how they behave. This is because users believe they are present in the virtual environment they find themselves in. The perception of being physically present in a non-physical world is an incredible sensation. It's the reason why VR has been used to treat conditions like autism, PTSD, depression, and paranoia; offer pain relief and even promote recovery in paraplegics.

This powerful tool is changing lives for the better. Here are five examples:

Fostering & Adoption

The Cornerstone Partnership