Multimedia Tools and Applications

, Volume 76, Issue 20, pp 21033–21049 | Cite as

Assisting therapists in assessing small animal phobias by computer analysis of video-recorded sessions

  • Vicente Castelló
  • V. Javier Traver
  • Berenice Serrano
  • Raúl Montoliu
  • Cristina Botella


Behavioural Avoidance Tests (BATs) are commonly used for assessing phobias. While easy to deploy, these tests have some practical difficulties. For instance, therapists have to make distance estimations that are hard to do with accuracy and objectivity; or information regarding the performance of the patients (e.g. their walking pattern) is lost. To alleviate these difficulties, a computerized tool has been developed to extract the walking pattern of patients while approaching the phobic stimulus. From a video-recorded BAT session, two visual representations have been explored to compactly summarize the patient’s behavior: a static one (an image) and a dynamic one (an animation). A proof-of-concept prototype has been tested with 23 therapists. Most of the therapists preferred the animated representation, since it provides them with a better sense of the dynamics of how the patient really behaved. The participants agreed that this tool might be useful in assisting therapist when assessing phobia through BATs, since diagnostics could be made in a more accurate and objective way.


Small-animal phobia Computer vision Visual representations Therapists Clinical diagnostics 



This work has been partly supported by Fundació Caixa-Castelló (through grant P1-1A2010-11) and Generalitat Valenciana (through grant PROMETEOII2014062).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vicente Castelló
    • 1
  • V. Javier Traver
    • 1
  • Berenice Serrano
    • 2
  • Raúl Montoliu
    • 1
  • Cristina Botella
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of New Imaging Technologies (iNIT)Universitat Jaume ICastellónSpain
  2. 2.Laboratory of Psychology, Technology (LABPSITEC)Universitat Jaume ICastellónSpain

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