Treating phobias with virtual reality
Phobias are common anxiety disorders which may heavily impact the quality of life of affected people. At the Institute of movement in Marseille, researchers are working on demonstrating the benefits of virtual reality in the treatment of these excessive fears.
For a long time, physicians have been using behavioural and cognitive approaches to treat phobias. The principle used here is to expose patients gradually to phobogenic stimulation. However, in the case of some spatial phobias, anxiety-inducing situations are difficult to recreate and monitor in real life. Virtual reality therapies may become a valid alternative by placing a patient in the middle of a virtual environment that is as realistic as possible. This is why an interdisciplinary team of researchers developed an experimental setup called CAVE. This consists of a room with four screens, where all the patient's senses are stimulated. With the assistance of a psychologist, the patient is then gradually exposed to his fear and instructed on how to try to cope with it.