• Background
  • PTSD
  • Phobias
  • Quiz


One area of therapy in which virtual reality is being explored as a tool is relief from anxiety and phobic (fear) disorders. All of us have anxiety from time to time. However, in a person with an anxiety disorder, their anxiety persists and can interfere with their day to day functioning. An anxiety disorder refers to a broad class of disorders in which anxiety persists and is greater than the situation seems to warrant. In a phobic disorder, the person has a fear of a situation or object. A common method of treatment, under various names and guises, can be called exposure therapy. In brief, the client is exposed in a controlled manner to the stimulus that is causing the anxiety or fear. The exposure starts at a level that the patient finds easy to handle and then as each level of exposure is handled without any increase in anxiety or fear, a more intense level of the phobic stimulus is presented.

Virtual reality creates the possibility of controlled exposure to the anxiety or fear inducing stimulus through computer generation. When virtual reality is used, the therapy is called virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET). The idea here is that in a computer environment, the exposure can be much more carefully controlled.

Go to the next three tabs to learn about uses of virtual reality to deal with different fear related disorders.