Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Anxiety Disorders
- 2.3k Downloads
Anxiety disorders, including phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder, are common and disabling disorders that often involve avoidance behavior. Cognitive-behavioral treatments, specifically imaginal and in vivo forms of exposure therapy, have been accepted and successful forms of treatment for these disorders. Virtual reality exposure therapy, an alternative to more traditional exposure-based therapies, involves immersion in a computer-generated virtual environment that minimizes avoidance and facilitates emotional processing. In this article, we review evidence on the application of virtual reality exposure therapy to the treatment of specific phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder and discuss its advantages and cautions.
KeywordsVirtual reality Exposure therapy PTSD Anxiety Cognitive-behavioral treatment
Dr. Rothbaum is a consultant to and owns equity in Virtually Better, which is developing products related to the VR research described in this article. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by Emory University in accordance with its conflict-of-interest policies. No other potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance
- 5.• Parsons TD, Rizzo AA: Affective outcomes of virtual reality exposure therapy for anxiety and specific phobias: a meta-analysis. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry 2008, 39:250–261. This article presents a quantitative meta-analysis of 21 studies (300 participants) examining the variability and clinical significance of treatment outcomes following VRE therapy.Google Scholar
- 6.• Powers MB, Emmelkamp PM: Virtual reality exposure therapy for anxiety disorders: a meta-analysis. J Anxiety Disord 2008, 22:561–569. This meta-analysis includes 13 studies (397 participants) and examines effect sizes for VRE therapy compared with in vivo exposure and control conditions.Google Scholar
- 39.McLay RN, McBrien C, Wiederhold M, Wiederhold B: Exposure therapy with and without virtual reality to treat PTSD while in the combat theater: a parallel case series. Cyberpsychol Behav 2009 Dec 20 (Epub ahead of print.).Google Scholar
- 40.Foa EB, Hembree EA, Rothbaum BO: Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD: Emotional Processing of Traumatic Experiences: Therapist Guide. New York: Oxford University Press; 2007.Google Scholar