VR Therapy : A Promising Future for Mental Wellness
Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) is an emerging treatment for various mental health issues. It has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve mood in patients with anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, chronic pain, eating disorders, & phobias. It provides a safe, controlled environment where clients can work to overcome their fears, address trauma and learn new, helpful skills in a virtual setting.
Though it’s not yet widely available Mind By Design offers VRT that you can use right from your home. This immersive technology allows patients to feel comfortable and in control while working through challenging mental health symptoms
How Does VR Therapy (VRT) Work?
The use of VR in therapy has been going on for nearly 30 years and recently became more available to therapists and clients. Clients are immersed in a 3D virtual environment that recreates an experience they have identified as stressful or fear-inducing situation. While working with their therapist, the clients learn skills that help to identify and reduce anxiety triggers, such as “thought traps” and “mental compulsions” that can fuel anxiety. Together, the therapist and client implement new techniques that lessen the mental and emotional response to the stress stimulus.
This type of treatment is also known as Exposure Therapy and it is used to reduce fear or anxiety through controlled exposure techniques while simultaneously learning new skills that help regulate physiological, cognitive and emotional responses. Prior to VRT, exposure therapy required in-vivo exposure, therefore, many therapists and clients found it very difficult to use in therapy.
The Benefits of Using VRT
Virtual reality presents a range of advantages as a therapeutic tool that offers an authentic and tailored experience. In recent years, VRT has become more readily available to providers, and is even being accepted as a medical support by some insurance companies! Here are some of the benefits of using virtual reality in mental health:
By recognizing that a virtual environment is not real, individuals may find it easier to approach a difficult virtual situation than a real one. Furthermore, research shows that individuals respond similarly to VR environments as they do in in-person situations, therefore the skills gained in VR Therapy are applicable life skills.
Personalized Treatment for each client
Virtual reality therapy can be personalized to meet individual needs and improve accessibility. Virtual reality programs recreate realistic situations that we face in daily life, as well as unique scenarios that may be more challenging. For example, exposure therapy for driving-related fears can be effective through virtual reality, as real-life driving may be too complex or dangerous to replicate. Similarly, individuals can enjoy various immersive nature experiences that are unlikely to occur in real life due to practical barriers such as travel and expenses. A personalized VR experience allows for all people to receive care that meets their unique mental health needs.
Accessible and Convenient
Virtual reality in mental health can benefit older adults transitioning into long-term care facilities, a population that is vulnerable to mental and physical health challenges. Elderly individuals also face behavioral limitations, making some forms of therapy impractical. Since moving to long-term care can be distressing and disorienting, immersive virtual experiences in familiar environments may provide comfort.
Accessibility is a key advantage of virtual reality therapy for the general population also. It allows individuals to access therapy from the comfort of their own home through tele-therapy supported by VR. This is particularly beneficial for those with mobility issues or for individuals who live in remote areas, have limiting schedules or who can’t travel to their therapists office
VR Therapy in mental health is more accessible to the general public than ever before . Furthermore, research shows that successful completion of therapy is more common when VRT is used in conjunction with more traditional therapies.