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Amy Marshall, a professor of psychology at Penn State University, says: “Currently, behavioural and cognitive therapies are highly successful. This new approach includes therapy where the patient is exposed to repetitive experiences in stressful situations. The cognitive process aims to teach the patient to identify the causes of his anxieties and thus control his emotions. With VR simulations, we have more therapeutic tools to help people in post-traumatic stress. “A boon as the number of veterans depressions and suicides remains high. 

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Phobia.

With an estimation of 10 millions people in the UK with phobia, virtual reality has the potential to improve their well being. How does the exposure therapy work?

Until now, the treatment of phobia was simple: gradually confront the phobic individual to his greatest anxiety. The fear of height for example, the idea was to bring the person on top of a bridge. For a phobic spider, what is better than a face to face with the subject.

The problem? “It’s way too brutal. Patients are sometimes too afraid to start a therapy, “says Éric Malbos, psychiatrist and practitioner in the department of psychiatry and addictology at Hospital Design in Marseille. According to phobias, some are difficult to treat conventionally. For example, it is almost impossible to imagine a psychiatrist taking a whole day to get on the side of his patient on a plane.

Everyone is scared of something but for each individual even if the phobia is similar each one will have a specific reason for this phobia. It is this reason that needs to be understood and tackled. The VR therapy needs to be adapted to each of these specific characteristics. We do not immerse the patient in virtual reality immediately. To begin, we determine with him what is his exact problem, for example the type of phobia he suffers from and the degree of his anxiety. The goal is for the person to better understand their disorder. We also teach him relaxation and breathing techniques that will be useful for managing his reaction to his fears. To plunge someone who has not gone through these pre sessions. Virtual reality would be completely counter productive and would only lead to panic.

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