Virtual Therapy is a psychological treatment method that falls under the category of Exposure Therapy and is centered around the use of Virtual Reality technology to simulate exposure in the Virtual World. Exposure therapy is form of treatment typically used for the treatment of phobias. The idea behind it is to get accustomed to the phobia by gradually and incrementally increasing exposure to the phobia with the help of a psychologist.
Although exposure therapy has been around for quite a while, psychologists have been limited in the number of ways they can expose someone to phobias due to practical and financial challenges in simulating a situation in the physical world. For example, a fear of flying on airplanes is very costly to simulate, and likewise, a fear of spiders is too impractical. However, both of these situations are easily simulated in the Virtual World.
In addition to exposing to phobias, we can use exposure to systematically desensitize eating disorders and various addictions such to drugs, alcohol and gambling.
How VR Therapy Works
Virtual Therapy is not necessarily the only form of treatment, or even the best form of treatment for phobias. However, it can be a crucial part of a broader treatment plan. Ideally, the immediate symptoms are treated with Virtual Reality Therapy, whereas the underlying issues that lead to phobia are explored using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In addition, your psychologist may provide coping skills training to practice while you're in the Virtual World.