VR to reduce phobias
A fully self-guided treatment using virtual reality (VR) is effective in reducing fear of heights in children. A team of researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) and the University of Twente, developed ZeroPhobia, a treatment delivered through a smartphone app and a basic VR viewer. The results of the study were published in JAMA Psychiatry.
Two to five per cent of the population suffers from fear of heights. The research aims at treating phobias without the intervention of a therapist, using only a smartphone and a VR viewer. The method involved is to treat phobias such as fear of heights, by finding ways to safely put people in a virtual environment, near the object or in the situation that they fear. Step by step, they learn to deal with their fear. An interesting aspect of VR is that because people know it is not real, they are also more willing to try new things out. And because the treatment is entirely gamified and animated, they may even enjoy it.