What would you say if you had a phobia and there was a cool new way to overcome it, without having to leave home? Virtual reality therapy has become a leading trend in helping people dealing with all kinds of diseases, injuries, and mental health problems to overcome them from the comfort of their homes. Licensed therapists give treatments in real-time and guide patients using a VR headset.
Below, we’ll explain more about phobias and how virtual reality can help combat those phobias.
What are phobias?
Phobias represent a type of anxiety disorder that causes a person to feel excessive fear of an object or situation. It is an exaggerated and irrational fear, and people with phobias tend to avoid the object or situation to a degree greater than the actual danger posed. They experience intense distress when faced with it and it can prevent them from functioning normally, and sometimes even lead to panic attacks.
Phobias are considered diagnosable mental disorders, and according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), there are 3 types including specific phobias, social phobias, and agoraphobia. The specific phobia is an intense and irrational fear of a specific trigger, while social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, is a profound fear of public humiliation and being judged by others in a social situation.
Agoraphobia can be caused by various specific phobias like social embarrassment, fear of open spaces, fear of contamination, or even PTSD related to a trauma that happened outdoors. It’s a fear of situations from which it would be difficult to escape like leaving home or being in an elevator, which can also cause panic attacks. There are many different types of specific phobias, and the symptoms are common across the majority of them.
VR therapy vs phobias
When patients with phobias want to overcome them, they turn to many different treatments and therapies, hoping to get rid of their fear. One of the best new ways a person can overcome their phobia is by experiencing virtual reality therapy by using a VR headset, guided by a licensed therapist that will help them deal with their fear and even fight it successfully.
For example, if a person has a fear of flying, they can visit their therapist’s office, or use the benefit of having a VR therapy session from home, put on a VR headset and let the therapist help them. They will coach them by simulating the inside of an airplane, and not only can you see but you can also hear the sounds you would normally experience if you were really on a flight.
Although the patient knows this is not a real situation, and they’re not really in an airplane, it would still trigger their emotional responses to their phobia. By working through these types of reactions, in some traumas or phobias, almost 83% of people who have tried VR therapy have managed to overcome their fears for good.
Benefits of VR therapy
There are many benefits from using VR therapy for overcoming phobias like allowing the patient to try the therapy without so much anxiety and without having to experience it in real life. You can avoid inconveniences like having to leave home and become upset being in a public area since you can experience VR therapy from home.
The therapists carefully control the situation. For example, if you have a fear of elevators you won’t have to get in one to overcome the fear. With virtual reality therapy, you can feel as if you’re in a location, but if you get too upset or experience a severe anxiety attack, then the therapist will stop the program. Additionally, this helps patients feel more confident and comfortable.
Another great benefit of having VR therapy would be the shorter sessions. Also, there’s a possibility of repeating the session several times until the patient has conquered a portion of the phobia and is ready to move on. Studies show that this type of therapy has a powerful in-life impact and has been successful in treating both adults and children for OCD, social anxiety, PTSD, and phobias.
The reason why psychologists offer virtual reality to their patients is that it helps them face their fears and overcome them. This cool tech helps patients experience the environment and all the elements in the virtual world without being put in dangerous situations in the real world. VR is a cheaper and more convenient way, and the best part is that people of all ages are loving this new technology.