Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET)

I am pleased to now offer an effective treatment method with use of “in sensu/in virtuo” Exposure to treat specific phobias such as Fear of Spiders, Snakes, Elevators, Insects, Darkness, Food, Height, Dogs, Crowds, Needles, Traffic etc.

The use of Virtual Reality (VR) technology represents an option with the potential to overcome such barriers. VR exposure therapy (VRET), also called exposure therapy in virtuo, is based on the very similar rationale of in vivo exposure therapy, however, in VR exposure, phobic stimuli are presented to the patient in VR. VR is a computer-generated presentation, which provides input to the user’s sensory system and interacts with the user (also see Diemer et al., 2015). Visual VR stimuli are presented via VR glasses (HMD: head mounted display). Auditory input is applied via loudspeakers or earphones, and tactile, haptic or olfactory stimulation is possible but rarely provided. The aim is to replace sensory input from the real world and to create a presence of the user in the virtual world. To interact with the user in real time, the VR system collects information about the users’ position and (head) movements via sensors and input devices like a head tracking system or a joystick.

By bringing virtual phobic stimuli into the therapist’s office, VR exposure has many structural advantages. It is less time consuming in its application (e.g,. because driving to a high tower in heights phobia treatment is not necessary any more), cost-effective (e.g., in comparison to cost-intensive in vivo treatments for fear of flying), and requires less organization (e.g., regarding the acquisition of living spiders in spider phobia treatment, or of an audience for Social Phobia treatment). Furthermore, there are fewer difficulties concerning safety and insurance arrangements.

German Practice Guideline for anxiety disorders recommends VR exposure on the basis of expert consensus for Specific Phobia if in vivo exposure is not available or possible (Bandelow et al., 2014).

( Department for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Institute of Psychology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany).

Please arrange an appointment if you would like to know more about Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy and what kind of specific phobias can be treated in my practice.

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Published on 2020/07/19

Posted in: Phobias