Virtual reality in the treatment of spider phobia: a controlled study

Behav Res Ther. 2002 Sep;40(9):983-93. doi: 10.1016/s0005-7967(01)00068-7.


This study explored whether virtual reality (VR) exposure therapy was effective in the treatment of spider phobia. We compared a treatment condition vs. a waiting list condition in a between group design with 23 participants. Participants in the VR treatment group received an average of four one-hour exposure therapy sessions. VR exposure was effective in treating spider phobia compared to a control condition as measured with a Fear of Spiders questionnaire, a Behavioural Avoidance Test (BAT), and severity ratings made by the clinician and an independent assessor. Eighty-three percent of patients in the VR treatment group showed clinically significant improvement compared with 0% in the waiting list group, and no patients dropped out. This study shows that VR exposure can be effective in the treatment of phobias.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Spiders*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • User-Computer Interface*