Virtual Reality Therapy Using The Oculus Rift
Virtual reality headsets like Oculus Rift will obviously revolutionize how we play videogames. But whats even more exciting is their potential application as a therapeutic tool. Already, researchers are exploring so-called virtual reality therapy (VRT) as a viable treatment option for certain mental illnesses.
VRT, or more accurately virtual reality exposure therapy, dates back to the early 90s. Exposure, rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is the repeated, direct confrontation with an anxiety-provoking stimulus or situation. The primary goal of exposure is habituation to the feared stimulus.
In other words, through frequent, systematic exposure, one becomes acclimated to the feared stimulus and to the experience of anxiety itself. For this reason, exposure is the gold-standard treatment for most anxiety disorders, and is particularly successful in treating specific phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I’m very excited to see where this goes. VR seems like a perfect for exposure therapy and could really help people to overcome their phobias in a shorter space of time than traditional therapies.