Therapists Are Using Virtual Reality to Help Patients Suffering from Anxiety, Depression, and Irrational Fears

Adult man with VR headset wearing a blue shirt and beige pants lying down on psychiatrist couch. The background is blue wall. His eyes are closed. Shot indoor with a full frame DSLR camera. | iStockphoto

It seems like virtual reality is everywhere these days – even the doctor’s office!

The technology behind V.R. can put you in the world of fantasy, space, or even the post-apocalypse if you want. But now a group of therapists is proving the imaginary spaces don’t have to be gaming related – and the technology has more potential to heal than previously thought.

Researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder are now using immersive virtual reality technology to help those who suffer from anxiety, depression and irrational fears, by placing the user into the situations that cause their moods, or fears, to flare up.

Monica Ng, the director of Counseling and Psychiatric Services at the University, compares V.R. therapy to some forms of cognitive behavioral therapy – which focuses on challenging and changing what she calls unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and improving the development of coping strategies specifically geared toward solving problems in their lives. The difference is that V.R. therapy allows the patient to work on those problem-solving skills in a safe space.

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SOURCE: Fox News, David Nath