Cognitive behavioral therapy for public-speaking anxiety using virtual reality for exposure

Depress Anxiety. 2005;22(3):156-8. doi: 10.1002/da.20090.

Abstract

This study used an open clinical trial to test a cognitive-behavioral treatment for public-speaking anxiety that utilized virtual reality as a tool for exposure therapy. Treatment was completed by participants (n = 10) meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-IV criteria for social phobia, or panic disorder with agoraphobia in which public speaking was the predominantly feared stimulus. Treatment was conducted by a licensed psychologist in an outpatient clinic. Treatment consisted of eight individual therapy sessions, including four sessions of anxiety management training and four sessions of exposure therapy using a virtual audience, according to a standardized treatment manual. Participants completed standardized self-report questionnaires assessing public-speaking anxiety at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 3-month follow-up. Participants were asked to give a speech to an actual audience at pre- and post-treatment. Results showed decreases on all self-report measures of public-speaking anxiety from pre- to post-treatment, which were maintained at follow-up (n = 8; all P = 05). Participants were no more likely to complete a speech post-treatment than at pre-treatment. This study provides preliminary evidence that a cognitive-behavioral treatment using virtual reality for exposure to public speaking may reduce public-speaking anxiety and suggests that further research with a controlled design is needed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Phobic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Phobic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology
  • Photic Stimulation / instrumentation*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Speech*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • User-Computer Interface*