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Using Virtual Reality to Overcome Fears in the Real World

Sara Rice, Social Media Intern, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

For people suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, some psychologists have traditionally treated them with exposure therapy. In this technique, they try to help patients mentally create a situation overcoming their fear. Now, psychologists and patients are turning to Virtual Reality (VR) to assist them in treatment.

Exposure therapy using VR is a supplement to what the patient’s imagination can do on its own. It is a way to for patients to face their past traumas without being disengaged and in a more controlled environment. With a headset and connected smartphone, patients are able to fly on a plane or stand on top of a skyscraper. Psychologists have been exploring this kind of technology for decades and have found that VR is just as effective as traditional exposure therapy.

While VR headsets are popular in the world of gaming, psychology and other medical fields could provide a wider audience. As the software and hardware for these tools continues to evolve to be more realistic, more people could see benefits.

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