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Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

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Rina A.

on 13 November 2014

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Transcript of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Virtual Reality
Exposure Therapy

- Dr. Ralph Lamson explored Virtual Reality Immersion Therapy (VRIT) in search of a way to treat people with technology. In
, Lamson alleviated his acrophobia in a test use of VR simulation.

- Dr. Barbara Rothbaum (Emory University) performed controlled group tests, yielding a 70% success rate in 50% of the subjects tested.

- Dr. Skip Rizzo (University of Southern California) created
Virtual Iraq
- an adaptation of a war simulation game designed to treat PTSD and is now acknowledged as an acceptable treatment by the
Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

What is CBT?
Similar to the Oculus Rift, VRE involves a
head mounted display

with two monitors that display a simulation of an environment that the individual would perceive as a threat.

Patients are exposed to realistic situations that are the source of their conditions, and over time, the intensity of the threat is removed through gradual exposure. Combined with relaxation skills, this method allows patients to adapt and cope with anxiety with the goal of leading a normal life.

During VRE sessions, physiological and psychological responses are monitored and recorded for future reference of improving this method of treatment. It is also crucial that the physiological responses are monitored such that the treatment does not actually induce a panic attack.
Where is VRE being used?
VA Hospitals

Military Bases

University Centers

Therapy Centers
What is VRET?
How does VRE work?
What is VRET?
What is CBT?
What is VRET used for?
How does it work?
Related videos
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

is an alternative to structured psychotherapy to treat phobias, PTSD, anxiety disorders, and addiction as a result of substance abuse.

It involves a controlled virtual environment with visual immersion devices and artificially created environments that can be adjusted as needed for the patients.

This method has proven to be more efficient in some ways than its traditional alternative,
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
And how is it related to VRE?
History of Virtual Reality Therapy
CBT, or
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
, is a short-term form of structured psychotherapy to treat various psychiatric disorders. It focuses on "restructuring" self-destructive thought processes through a series of 8-12 sessions that encourage patients to challenge their irrational thoughts.

One of the methods used in CBT that is common to VRE is
Exposure Therapy
, which is generally used to treat PTSD, phobias, and related anxiety disorders. As it sounds, rather than a virtual environment, exposure therapy is performed in real-life settings.

The main difference is that exposure therapy can actually be counterproductive if carried out incorrectly. In virtual environments, all factors can be controlled and adjusted as necessary for the patient.
Virtual Reality Therapy for Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, and Specific Phobias
People with panic disorders are sometimes unable to go through exposure therapy that involves real-life situations because it's too overwhelming.

Virtual Reality Therapy
introduces "near real-world" scenarios in environments such as airplanes, elevators, bridges, and audiences.

The patients are exposed to anxiety related to their condition and then are taught coping mechanisms that allow them to approach the situation and recognize that those feelings are not dangerous.
How VRET Relieves Symptoms of PTSD
Barbara Rothbaum (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine) describes PTSD, who is affected by it, and how VRE is used to alleviate symptoms of it.

She shows a brief demonstration of a different head mounted display along with how VRE technology can produce virtual experiences that are controlled based on a patient's specific needs.

Drawbacks of VRE
The main drawbacks to VRE therapy include:

1) The limitations of the technology
2) The cost
3) The acceptance of the technology
4) Possible breaches of confidentiality in a public
5) VR that becomes too real, or proceeds too quickly before the patient can tolerate it, can cause setbacks in treatment
Related Technology
Second Life
Virtual Reality Therapy sessions are able to be held in
virtual worlds
that are less immersive than sessions that involve head mounted display. This is useful for individuals who have trouble communicating face-to-face.

Computerized CBT: Gaming
Patients explore a fantasy-like game to treat adolescent depression. They encounter 'literal' negative thoughts and combat them to strengthen coping skills.

Oculus Rift
HMDs are often used during virtual reality therapy sessions. However, there are virtual therapy sessions that also take place in a non-immersive environment (e.g. computerized gaming) to restructure disordered thought processes.
Full transcript