How does Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy help patients?
VR Therapy is a high-tech method that helps people learn effective ways to cope with situations they dread. During a VRET session, the person wears a virtual reality headset similar to the kind used in video games or to watch movies on the phone. A simulation program plays and one or more avatars are displayed. The person engages with these avatars in a variety of common social situations in order to become better prepared for interactions in real-life situations.
Virtual reality exposure therapy allows you to feel as if you are in a setting, but the therapist can stop the program if you become truly upset. Even if a person knows the virtual reality program isn’t real, what they experience is enough to trigger an emotional response to their phobia. By working through their reactions, nearly 83 percent of people who have tried virtual reality therapy have managed to put their fears behind them.
Virtual Reality Therapy Benefits
Some of the benefits of virtual reality therapy include:
- Allowing the patient to try the therapy without as much anxiety. For example: in the case of a phobia about flying, it is much easier for someone to agree to try working through their fears in an office than to have to force themselves to physically go to the place they know will bring an emotional reaction.
- Experiencing the phobia and/or its triggers without taking the time to travel to an actual location. For the fear of flying phobia, you simply sit in a chair, rather than going to the airport numerous times for several small exposures to your triggers.
- Confidentiality for the patient: you don’t have to face potential embarrassment by running into someone you know or possibly becoming upset in a public area.
- The therapist can carefully control the situation, meaning if you are afraid of elevators or airplanes, you don’t have to get in one. Virtual reality exposure therapy allows you to feel as if you are in a location, but the therapist can stop the program if you become truly upset.
- The therapy is more realistic, in that you can go places or experience things you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to (you can’t get on and off an airplane as part of your flying phobia therapy, for instance). That being said, it is much safer than the real-life setting and minimizes any risk involved.
- Virtual reality exposure therapy sessions are shorter than those that require you to visit an actual site for therapy (so, there is no travel time from the therapist’s office to the airport for our fear of flying scenario.)
- Sessions can be repeated several times until the patient has conquered that portion of their phobia and is ready to move on to another phase.
More Ways to Get Help Now
We offer cognitive behavior therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, mindfulness meditation, group therapy. and medication. Depending on your needs, here’s how you can get help now: