Virtual Reality Could be Used to Treat Phobias


The applications for virtual reality are practically limitless, far beyond the obvious arenas like games and movies.

One new way in which the technology is being used today is in the treatment of phobias. Exposure therapy has long been a way to deal with everyday fears, and VR can be a great help in that regard.

By putting on a headset, patients can step into a virtual world that’s totally controlled by their healthcare team. That means the level of intensity can be very slowly increased, while it’s possible to escape at any time.

The technology is being harnessed at a new VR phobia treatment clinic in Sydney, Australia and the results to date have been impressive. Those who have a problem with dentists for example can start by walking into a dentist’s office, later watching someone having a procedure done.

Arachnophobes would normally approach spiders in real-life as part of this kind of therapy but the headset allows for them to be close to virtual versions of the arachnids. They might start with one in a jar, and end up in a scenario where several are moving close to their virtual hands. Which sounds like a nightmare until you are used to it.

The technology has also been used to treat those with a fear of heights, needles and even social scenarios like crowded trains. Together with a range of therapeutic elements VR can present a new method for these kinds of cases, and could help people to live a richer life as they conquer their fears.

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Posts from the Harvey Norman blog team.

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