Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can provide cutting edge treatment for anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) is a Virtual Reality application, where cognitive behavioral therapy is provided to the patients. In VRET, patients are fitted with a VR headset and with the help of the therapist are coached to fully engage, in a controlled way, in a feared or anxiety-producing situation. Within the virtual environment, patients can see and hear within a three-dimensional virtual world.
The technology is so immersive, the patients tend to believe they are present in the real world. The virtual environment can be manipulated to titrate the feared situation and to gradually help the patient habituate to the anxiety-producing experience. Because of the immersive quality of this type of treatment, patients often need fewer therapy sessions to gain some relief from their anxiety when faced with previously avoided scenarios.
In addition to targeting common phobias and PTSD, virtual reality is also used to enhance relaxation and mindfulness in the therapeutic setting.
Environments for VR include:
· Fear of Needles and Needle Injection
· Fear of Flying
· Fear of Driving
· Fear of Animals
· Fear of Bugs
· Acrophobia (fear of heights)
· Claustrophobia (including MRI specific)
· Fear of Public Speaking
· Social Anxiety
· Relaxation and Mindfulness
In addition, VR environments can be therapeutically relevant to a host of common issues that we see in our practice:
· Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
· Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
· Mood Disorders (Major Depression and Dysthymia)
· Social and Communication Skills Training
· Health Anxiety