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Psychotherapy in Virtual Reality

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An effective technique for treating phobias in patients with panic disorders is called systematic desenstization, where the patient constructs a hierarchy of their phobia, with situations which would provide them with increasing amounts of anxiety. They then act out these elements of the hierarchy in therapy while practicing relaxation techniques to decrease their phobias. If this modeling could be done in virtual reality, as opposed to their imaginations, it would likely have much more effect.

Common situations, like being in high places, could be fairly easily modeled in a virtual environment, using relatively inexpensive equipment, such as Google's Daydream VR or the Oculus Rift. A 360 degree video capturing scenes for the modeled situations could be employed. This idea is rather young, but I believe it could provide quite effective therapeutic benefits for this type of psychotherapy.

Quintin Frerichs
E-mail Quintin Frerichs

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