Virtual Reality Fact Sheet

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) has been found to be an effective and efficient treatment method for anxiety and stress disorders caused by specific events and situations. Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy provides both exposure-based therapeutic procedures and anxiety management techniques, the two most effective types of therapy for phobias and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

VRET Therapeutic Techniques

  • Exposure-based therapeutic procedures include:
  • Imagining the scary situation
  • Talking about the scary situation
  • Gradually experiencing the scary situation with a trained psychologist in a safe environment through in vivo exposure with Virtual Reality
  • Anxiety management techniques include:
  • Learning skills to control fear
  • Breathing retraining
  • Relaxation training
  • Patients are introduced to virtual reality only when their psychologist decides they are ready for in vivo exposure to the situation which causes them to fear and/or anxiety. Exposure begins gradually and is set at a pace designed specifically for each patient. During virtual reality exposure sessions, patients wear a head-mounted display with stereo earphones that provide visual and audio cues consistent with their feared situation. In some cases, a moving platform is also used.

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