Supporting Phobia Treatment with Virtual Reality: Systematic Desensitization Using Oculus Rift

Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 482)


An irrational fear is called a phobia. Cognitive therapy teaches patients how to respond to triggering stimuli, by relaxing their mind and entering a state of reduced anxiety. Some of these methods depend on patient’s imagination, since putting them in the situation or the object that triggers the anxiety (airplanes, spiders, public speaking, and dinosaurs) might be difficult. Our project proposes an interactive virtual reality system that enhances both the visual and hearing parts of the therapy, putting the patient in a virtual world where they can learn the proper techniques to learn how to respond to the anxiety triggers. We call our system VRPhobia. A prototype was created and it was evaluated with the aid of Cognitive Psychology therapists. The system takes into account the techniques used by the therapists and the training that the patient goes through. It works as a tool that enhances the therapy process.


Virtual reality Phobia Cognitive psychology Healthcare 



This work was partially supported by Centro de Investigaciones en Tecnologías de la Información y Comunicación (CITIC), Escuela de Ciencias de la Computación e Informática (ECCI) both at Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR). Grand No. 834-B4-159. We would like to thank Programa de Posgrado en Computación e Informatica and Sistema de Estudios de Posgrado at UCR for their support. Finally, thanks to Walter Cordero for helping us get in touch with the experts that evaluated the system and Marcela Leon for being the expert that triggered this investigation. Without our talk 2 years ago, this project would probably not exist.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PPCIUniversity of Costa RicaSan PedroCosta Rica
  2. 2.CITICUniversity of Costa RicaSan PedroCosta Rica
  3. 3.ECCIUniversity of Costa RicaSan PedroCosta Rica

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