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Blog - VRET

Self-guided phobia
training in VR

By Inna Maltzeva, Chief Scientific Officer at PsyTech VR
July 10, 2022



According to the WHO, about 10-15% of the world's population suffers from some form of phobia, and it's only in its obvious form. Almost every inhabitant of the planet sometimes feels hidden fears.

Often people can't overcome their fears independently and are forced to seek help from specialists. But the traditional methods do not suit everyone. And then virtual reality can come to the rescue.

Live out the fear

Live out the fear

Fears are most often connected with some childhood traumas and experiences. A child once got lost in a crowd and is now afraid to be around large crowds of people. He or she failed to make a report at school and in adulthood and now avoids public speaking. As a child, the person was locked in a dark closet as a punishment - as a result, he or she is afraid of the darkness and feels discomfort in the room while being alone. For example, if someone was frightened by monsters - later the person can get a phobia of spiders...
Psychologists work with fears in different ways. But the principle is the same - to make the patient survive the traumatic situation (in real life or with the imagination) and come out of it without loss.
During an appointment, the psychologist or psychotherapist may ask the patient to describe in detail a situation that causes fear. For example, if a patient is afraid of heights, he or she can imagine looking down from the roof of a skyscraper. But not everyone has such a great imagination as James Cameron has to visualise such difficult real-life situations. In this case, the specialist can give "homework" - to go up on the rooftop and stay near the barriers, feel the height, and watch the city from a bird's eye view.

Staged or simulated?

Staged or simulated?

However, it is not always possible to gain access to the right place (e.g. as we discussed earlier rooftops), and the experience of being forced into contact with the object of fear can be traumatic in itself. Some believe that such staging at all calls into question the professionalism of experts to face patients with real fears.

What if you could find safer options for managing phobias? One such option might be the virtual simulation - VRET

PsyTech VR includes an LMS system with courses, VR/AR content, and a platform for specialists that provides access to training statistics and virtual telemedicine.
Currently, PsyTech VR works with six phobias: acrophobia (fear of heights), arachnophobia (fear of spiders), glossophobia (fear of public speaking), claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces), nyctophobia (fear of the dark) and aerophobia (fear of airplanes).
All phobia scenarios are scripted from different levels. For example, if you choose aerophobia, the simulation begins with the arrival of a cab to take the patient to the airport. At the same time, the news of an impending thunderstorm is broadcast on the radio in the taxi. When the taxi arrives, the user has to spend time in the airport, waiting for the upcoming. flight. Afterwards, the person is set to visit the cabin of the plane, which is really authentic. Then the takeoff will be announced, and the engine hums. A thunderstorm begins, and our "hero" has to go through turbulence, flashes of lightning, peals of thunder... The flight is simulated in stormy conditions, right up to the safe landing.
If a person is afraid of spiders, he puts on VR glasses and goes into a room with arachnids in the terrarium. The patient's task is to get close to the virtual insect and examine it from all sides. The brain will become familiar with realistic spiders in VR, and after a few guided sessions, you'll see that the symptoms will go away.

Reduce anxiety level

Reduce anxiety level

Each time at the end of the session, the person is questioned about his or her mental state (calculated from the fear score), and every single session will be visualized in statistics on the platform. You don't have to write the results in a notebook. Track your progress and succeed in overcoming phobia! Normally, with each new session, the level of fear should decrease. It may not disappear at all, but it should at least subside.
“As a result of repeated training of phobiс scenario in virtual reality, the patient develops a conditioned inverse reflex: the connection between the phobic situation and the fear reaction becomes broken, and these circumstances become something normal and commonplace. Anxieties and fears subside"
Inna Maltzeva
Chief Scientific Officer at PsyTech VR
Member of the Association of Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists
Preliminary studies have shown that the level of effectiveness of curing anxiety disorders through VR therapy is 30% higher than with traditional methods. In addition, the factor of confidentiality plays a significant role here.
Not every person is ready to share their fears with specialists(!!!!), even with a psychologist. And PsyTech VR allows you to conduct therapy sessions on your own, without the participation of a specialist. Self-guided phobia therapy in virtual reality.
At PsyTech VR, we don't plan to stop. Our roadmap is huge but focused
"We plan to seriously expand the list of phobias, as well as to emphasise meditation and other relaxation practices. Phobia therapy at PsyTech VR will become more and more user-friendly for self-guided training. Users will be able to get professional wellness and mental support in the comfort of the home" says CEO - Ioan A.
Today, PsyTech VR is not a concept, it is a real product that is launched in several clinics and opened for beta-testers around the world!
Join us and let's help this world forget about fears and phobias.
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Inna Maltzeva
CSO at PsyTech VR

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