If you’re acrophobic or afraid of heights, taking psychological therapy based on automated virtual reality (VR) can help reduce phobia, researchers say.
According to the study, published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, participants took part in activities during the RV session that challenged their fears and helped them learn that they were more confident than they thought.
“Immersive VR therapies that do not need a therapist have the potential to dramatically increase access to psychological interventions,” said lead author Daniel Freeman of the British University of Oxford.
“As seen in our clinical trial, VR treatments have the potential to be effective, faster and more attractive to many patients than traditional face-to-face therapies.
With our unique automation of therapy using VR, there is an opportunity to provide high quality treatment to many more people at an affordable cost, “added Freeman.
For the study, 100 people with a clinical diagnosis of fear of heights, who did not receive psychological therapy, were divided into two groups and received the new automated virtual reality treatment or usual care, which was usually not a treatment.
Participants were given six sessions of VR treatment for approximately 30 minutes each for two weeks where they wore a VR headset.
Throughout various activities, beginning with simpler tasks, such as gradually seeing a safety barrier, leading to more difficult tasks such as walking on a platform in a big fall, the virtual coach offered encouragement and then explained what the participants had done. learned from their activities and asked if they felt safer than before.
The virtual trainer also encouraged the participants to try real heights between sessions.
At the end of the treatment and during follow-up, participants in the RV group reported that their fears were reduced compared to the control group that rated their fear of heights as similar.