Posted by & filed under Introduction To Psychology, Psychological Disorders and Therapy, Psychology Update, Stress and Health Psychology.


Inside the Effort to Expand Virtual Reality Treatments for Mental Health



Most of us think of “virtual reality” as a headset with games.  However, over the past few decades VR has been used a an important tool in treating a variety of Psychological Disorders.  “The term “virtual reality” had been coined less than a decade prior in 1987 by computer scientist Jaron Lanier—although cinematographer Morton Heilig built the first immersive virtual experience, known as the “Sensorama,” back in 1960. At the time of Rothbaum’s study, the nascent technology was still primarily considered entertainment, and so the notion that it could have clinical utility was unexpected.  Rothbaum and her collaborator, computer scientist Larry Hodges, were set on devising a virtual alternative to traditional exposure therapy, in which therapists help patients confront anxiety-inducing stimuli in real life or by simply visualizing triggers. Using VR meant that Rothbaum didn’t have to rely on her patients’ imaginations, or physically take them to the highest heights to face their phobias. She could also precisely control the environment and grade the exposure. For example, when she is treating someone for a fear of flying, she can determine when and if to introduce turbulence. And, her patient can take off and land as many times as needed during their hour-long session.”  The article explains and describes the use of VR and the various modes of employment.  The article is fascinating in the sense that it explains how VR is useful for a variety of psychological symptoms and disorders.

The article can be used in conjunction with chapters on Stress and Health, Psychopathology/Abnormal Psychology, and therapy.



Smithsonian Magazine, May 6, 2022, by Raleigh McElvery




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•What is “virtual reality”?

•How is VR used in the field of Psychology and Mental Health?

•What types of problems are best suited to treatments with VR?


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