Virtual Reality Therapy
Virtual reality has popularly been thought of as a means of recreation, but with advancements in digital and virtual rendering it is gaining recognition as a means of treating phobias, substance abuse, and inducing relaxation.
VRET was first developed to treat anxiety disorders, such as specific phobias, social anxiety, and PTSD. Prior to 1995, exposure therapy was primarily conducted using either imaginal exposure, a technique used to encourage one to think about the fears, or in-vivo exposure, a technique used to face one's fears in the real world. For many types of anxiety disorders, in-vivo exposure is considered the “gold standard” of treatment; however, it can be both time consuming and costly.
How is Virtual Reality used in a clinical setting?
Our clinicians are experts in the assessment and treatment of all Anxiety Disorders.
We specialize in the use of Exposure Therapy , the most effective treatment approach for most anxiety disorders.
Each case is handled with sensitivity and care, before beginning exposure therapy, the clinician teaches the patient anxiety-management strategies and ways to address thoughts that perpetuate anxiety. Together, they develop a hierarchy of anxiety-producing situations or stimuli and then begin the process of exposure to the elements identified in the hierarchy.
We strive to deliver high-quality, cognitive-behaviorally (CBT) focused services, including evaluations, therapy, and consultation. We focus on accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of emotional, occupational, and relationship problems. Our CBT emphasis maximizes practical and solution-focused techniques that increase patient insight, productivity, confidence, and happiness.
Using this approach, the person faces their fear in a virtual world, which simulates the feared situation. The patient wears goggles and headphones and experiences visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (or physical) information immersing them in the situation. The patient will “feel” like they are “there,” and with the trained clinician asking specific questions and creating patient-specific events to occur in the software, the patient will respond physically and emotionally as if the situation was real.
Can Virtual Reality Therapy help me with addiction?
The use of virtual reality exposure therapy under the guidance of trained clinician has yielded great results in the field of addiction. These results have been achieved by using virtual reality to target the underlying issues of many addictions such as impulse control, compulsion, and struggles with major life changes.
VRET is especially helpful when in vivo exposure is difficult to arrange or challenging to control. For instance, to treat fear of public speaking, it is nearly impossible to assemble a group of people to serve as an audience. For fear of flying, clinicians can’t guarantee turbulence, storms, or unfamiliar noises. In VRET, the clinician has complete control over these and many other fear-provoking triggers, which results in a patient-tailored exposure session, that can be repeated as many times as clinically necessary. This gives the patient a greater sense of mastery and control when faced with real-life anxiety.
If you are experiencing any of these challenges, we encourage you to contact us and make an appointment. Everyone deserves to live a productive and satisfying life, and our clinicians have the skills and tools necessary to improve coping and promote positive and enduring change.
We believe our warm therapeutic environment, collaborative treatment approach, and concrete solutions for everyday problems foster a successful therapeutic experience and allow for significant and lasting improvements.