A VR App May Help in Treatment of Five Common Phobias

Researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand developed and trialed an app-based virtual reality (VR) system that helps treat five common phobias such as fear of flying, fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of dogs, and fear of needles.A VR App May Help in Treatment of Five Common Fobias

For their trial, the research team recruited 126 adults living in New Zealand with one of the five phobias, named above. The trial lasted for 6 weeks. Participants needed to have access to a smartphone and the internet in order to use the VR app, called oVRcome. The app was paired with a VR headset to allow participants to experience 360-degree virtual environments.

Dr. John Francis Leader, a psychologist developing a mixed reality therapy room at University College Dublin, says: “The unique feature of this study is that the approach focuses on self-guided supports for the treatment of phobias, rather than the use of experiential technology administered by a practitioner. This offers great advantages in terms of reach; however, further research will need to be carried out to understand the limitations of conducting psychological interventions for phobias in the absence of professional supervision.”

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