The typical conversation around Virtual Reality (VR) is safety training, product demonstrations and virtual tradeshows and yet, a new study is looking at Virtual Reality as a treatment option for those struggling with social anxiety disorder.
The study titled, “Virtual reality compared with in vivo exposure in the treatment of social anxiety disorder: a three-arm randomised controlled trial,” published online 02 January 2108, by The British Journal of Psychiatry, aimed to identify if VR simulated social environments would be an effective treatment option for social anxiety disorder. For within a Virtual Reality environment, a person would not be required to directly face their feared situation or activity in real life.
The method of testing described in the study involved participants being randomly assigned to one of three treatment methods, VR exposure, in vivo exposure or a waiting list. In addition, participants received 14 individual weekly session and outcomes were assessed with questionnaires and a behavior avoidance test.
The study concluded that using Virtual Reality (VR) can be advantageous over standard cognitive–behavioral therapy as a potential solution for treatment avoidance. The final conclusions also recognized VR as efficient, cost-effective and practical. See the full results here: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/virtual-reality-compared-with-in-vivo-exposure-in-the-treatment-of-social-anxiety-disorder-a-threearm-randomised-controlled-trial/D541B09E2FF234FA82A7001AB44E3989
As we expand our thinking to all of the ways VR can be applied, and the growing interest from researchers and VR technology companies to identify the benefits of Virtual Reality, it's fascinating to imagine what the future holds for us all.
Source: The British Journal of Psychiatry, “Virtual reality compared with in vivo exposure in the treatment of social anxiety disorder: a three-arm randomised controlled trial,” published online 02 January 2108. Retrieved online May 18, 2018.