Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Jonathan Gershon - Department of Psychology, Emory University and Virtually Better, Inc., Georgia
Page Anderson - Virtually Better, Inc., Georgia
Ken Graap - Department of Psychology, Emory University and Virtually Better, Inc., Georgia
Elana Zimand - Virtually Better, Inc., Georgia
Larry Hodges - College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology
Barbara O. Rothbaum - Department of Psychiatry, Emory University
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Barbara O. Rothbaum, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine, 1365 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drs. Rothbaum and Hodges receive research funding and are entitled to sales royalty from Virtually Better, Inc., which is developing products related to the research described in this article. In addition, the investigators serve as consultants to and own equity in Virtually Better, Inc. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology in accordance with their conflict of interest policies.
Virtual reality (VR) is a relatively new technology that has recently been applied to the field of clinical psychology. Although this technology is still in its infancy, a number of research reports have indicated that virtual reality exposure therapy (VRE) can be effective in helping patients overcome a number of anxiety disorders. Specifically, VRE has been used efficaciously in the treatment of specific phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder. This article provides an overview of treatment outcome studies that have used VR to help treat anxiety disorders, the rationale for VRÕs use, and future directions for the field. In general, the use of VR as a tool in exposure therapies is very promising, although further research is clearly needed.