Specific Phobias are treated by Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality Therapy, the most innovative method of treating specific phobias
In vivo exposure therapy has proven to be a hugely successful treatment for phobias, but is impractical for some specific phobias, such as fear of public speaking or fear of flight in terms of costs and time. The solution can be exposure to virtual reality therapy.
The most innovative method of treating specific phobias is virtual reality exposure therapy.
Virtual Reality Therapy use applications and programs of visual immersion in which specific situations are simulated visually and audibly, to provide the patient, suffering from various phobias, a safe and comfortable environment. The environment easily reproduces and relay different experiences that help the patient to be treated for specific conditions.
The patient uses particular 3D projection glasses (head-mounted display) and headphones for the visual, auditory, and even kinesthetic experiences he goes through while simulating the phobic situation.
Virtual Reality Therapy sessions for any specific phobia last on average between 40-45 minutes, and depending on the level of initial anxiety, the patient may need 6 to 12 sessions.
How does it work Virtual Reality Therapy?
During the virtual therapy, the patient meets the phobic stimulus in a virtual world that simulates the real situation of anxiety. It uses 3D projection glasses(head-mounted display), equipped with body motion monitoring sensors, which are connected to the doctor’s computer.
Thus, it allows the doctor/psychotherapist to offer careful guidance, while maintaining full control over everything that occurs, adjusting the intensity of the therapy according to the individual needs of the patient.
The therapy that uses virtual reality works because of a neurological trick discovered by scientists, who compared activated brain connections in phobic and non-phobic patients within the virtual environment.
Non-phobic patients can quickly pick up subtle details by saying that the object is not real, such as how the spider moves and reacts or the lack of movement in the virtual plane.
Phobic patients, however, immediately seek out the signals they perceive to be relevant to their survival. The mere presence of the spiders’ legs and movement in their direction is enough to trigger a strong emotional response – enough to initiate fear and corrective learning experience.
Brain scans show that once the treatment is over, the threatening mechanism of the brain returns to normal functioning. In particular, there is a minimal response in two regions: the island and the amygdala.
Virtual Reality Therapy programs have also begun to be tested as a new therapy for young people with autism disorders, for whom anxiety and social phobias are common.
This technology will become more and more sophisticated and is determined by an increasing need.
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Virtual Reality Therapy
In Romania ID Therapy Bespoke Treatment Center is the only clinic, representing the Virtually Better Institute, Inc®, USA, which offers patients virtual therapy systems for specific phobias (aviophobia, fear of public speaking, astraphobia, fear of dogs, acrophobia, arachnophobia, gephirophobia, brontophobia, aichmophobia, nyctophobia), alcohol and tobacco addiction and anxiety management relaxation techniques.
The results of virtual reality exposure therapy for specific phobias are over 70% and are maintained even after the end of therapy.