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Can VR and AR Help Phobias? – Immersive Learning News – IndiaBlogger.in

We examine the use of augmented and virtual reality to treat something that will affect almost all of us: phobias.

In line with Mental Health Awareness Month this May, we’re doing a series of articles looking at the links between the techniques we cover and mental health. Today, we turn our attention to the use of augmented and virtual reality, which will affect almost all of us: phobias.

What are Phobias?

Phobias differ from simple fears in that they are excessive and debilitating, Importantly, they are also irrational. Phobias encompass a variety of fears, which are experienced at different levels. While almost all of us will be mildly afraid of something, the problem is compounded when that fear becomes more intense – preventing people from living their daily lives. For example, consider someone with needle phobia who cannot go to the doctor. Phobias can develop from significant, traumatic events, but can develop equally slowly over time.

With this in mind, many people seek treatment to overcome their phobias, with a practice known as “exposure therapy” being the most popularly deployed. It involves a therapist who tries to help the patient overcome fears, anxieties, and phobias by gradually introducing them to the object of their fear. Importantly, exposure therapy does not seek to “cure” the phobia, but instead equips patients with the confidence to manage an encounter with the object of their fear.

The analog version of such an approach involves watching a video or encountering a stimulus in the real world. However, VR and AR technology are increasingly being deployed instead. The genius of using AR and VR in such an approach is that patients can be exposed to a virtual representation of something that frightens them while ultimately knowing that they are in a safe environment.

Just having the knowledge that what you are seeing is virtual, of course, does not eliminate the fear response (as in countless videos of people screaming while falling from virtual planks can attest). While Ritchie’s Planck experience is less exercise in healing phobias, and more exercise in exploiting them, there are plenty of serious attempts at using VR and AR in a clinical setting.

XR treatment

Happily, this is no pipe dream. AR and VR are currently being used in many real-world medical scenarios. And medical practitioners themselves are increasingly realizing the benefits of technology. According to GlobalData’s 2021 Poll On Digital Health in Neurology, 18% of 109 industry respondents thought AR and VR solutions would be the most appropriate technology to treat mental and behavioral health conditions.

In the UK in 2020, the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) announced that it has presented virtual Reality headsets to help patients deal with everything from fears of needles, heights, flying and spiders to agoraphobia and claustrophobia, as well as more unusual fears such as exams, driving, public speaking, and storms.

Nesta Reeve, psychologist and clinical lead consultant for Clinical Wellbeing Services. “Ultimately, we hope that now that we have this technology, more people will come forward to ask for help for their phobias, and that using VR will help them get better more quickly so they can engage in those activities.” May enjoy what many of us take for granted.”

VR has a lot of utility when it comes to keeping people in places that aren’t safe in the real world. When it comes to phobias, this is the perfect way to overcome the fear of heights, and in the UK there are NHS services in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire offering duly. VR exposure to altitude.

Their approach also takes advantage of a virtual therapist who appears through a computer generated avatar, and is voiced by a real person. In a randomized clinical trial of fear of heights treatment, VR therapy revealed For fear of heights to be effective (which affects 1 in 5 people). After spending an average of more than two hours in the simulation, all participants showed a reduction in fear of heights, with an average reduction of 68%.

Richard, a retired paramedic receiving treatment Told: “I lived with a debilitating fear of heights for the rest of my life and had to organize my life so that I could completely avoid all situations that catapulted me to heights and heights as I experienced unbearable anxiety Happens. I can now go to my local shopping center since having VR-enabled therapy and I’m able to move around freely and move on all floors and even look out from the balcony. It’s something that It would have been impossible for me to do before this treatment.”

help at home

While the use of AR and VR is a potentially cheaper option for treating patients in a clinical session, especially for patients who require only a small amount of contact with a physician, it also means That aid can be accessed remotely and at your own comfort. House.

This concept of self help power services like Ovrao, which offers a range of VR simulations and modules for fear, anxiety and depression – for use by children, adolescents and adults. The company offers its own virtual reality headset through which to access content, which works by inserting a smartphone to display the content.

Meanwhile, the fact that AR can be so easily accessed from the ubiquitous smartphone means it has the greatest potential for home use, democratizing exposure therapy by significantly lowering the barrier to entry. By blending the user’s own body and real surroundings with virtual elements, AR also offers its own advantages compared to VR.

An example in the world of AR Fobys, is a smartphone app designed to reduce the fear of spiders. The experience was developed as part of one discovery who found the “intervention significantly reduced subjective fear” in a two-week controlled trial.

effectiveness and benefits

Other benefits of AR and VR exposure therapy include its repetition (patients are allowed infinite efforts at their own pace) as well as privacy, in which patients are not forced to reveal their fears to the outside world. .

Interestingly, a study of we are . efficacy of Different amounts of potency were found for exposure therapy depending on the specific phobia. Compared to real-world exposure therapy, no major differences were found when using VR compared to the real thing. As such, the study recommends that VR for exposure therapy should be further disseminated – especially considering the potential for new technologies and techniques to be of even greater benefit.


It is clear that AR and VR technologies have immense potential to help people overcome their phobias safely. Even in their relatively early stages, they are being used to help people in the real world. As technology develops, and virtual worlds become more realistic and interactive, there is every chance that AR and VR will become the treatment of choice for phobias.


Can VR and AR Help Phobias? was last modified: Mai 22, 2022 By torstenfels

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