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Review
, 25 (3), 103-113

The Use of Virtual Reality Technology in the Treatment of Anxiety and Other Psychiatric Disorders

Affiliations
Review

The Use of Virtual Reality Technology in the Treatment of Anxiety and Other Psychiatric Disorders

Jessica L Maples-Keller et al. Harv Rev Psychiatry.

Abstract

After participating in this activity, learners should be better able to:• Evaluate the literature regarding the effectiveness of incorporating virtual reality (VR) in the treatment of psychiatric disorders• Assess the use of exposure-based intervention for anxiety disorders ABSTRACT: Virtual reality (VR) allows users to experience a sense of presence in a computer-generated, three-dimensional environment. Sensory information is delivered through a head-mounted display and specialized interface devices. These devices track head movements so that the movements and images change in a natural way with head motion, allowing for a sense of immersion. VR, which allows for controlled delivery of sensory stimulation via the therapist, is a convenient and cost-effective treatment. This review focuses on the available literature regarding the effectiveness of incorporating VR within the treatment of various psychiatric disorders, with particular attention to exposure-based intervention for anxiety disorders. A systematic literature search was conducted in order to identify studies implementing VR-based treatment for anxiety or other psychiatric disorders. This article reviews the history of the development of VR-based technology and its use within psychiatric treatment, the empirical evidence for VR-based treatment, and the benefits for using VR for psychiatric research and treatment. It also presents recommendations for how to incorporate VR into psychiatric care and discusses future directions for VR-based treatment and clinical research.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest: Dr. Rothbaum owns equity in Virtually Better, Inc. that creates virtual reality products. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by Emory University in accordance with its conflict of interest policies.

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