Review of Virtual Reality Treatment in Psychiatry: Evidence Versus Current Diffusion and Use

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017 Sep 18;19(11):80. doi: 10.1007/s11920-017-0836-0.


Purpose of review: This review provides an overview of the current evidence base for and clinical applications of the use of virtual reality (VR) in psychiatric practice, in context of recent technological developments.

Recent findings: The use of VR in psychiatric practice shows promise with much of the research demonstrating clinical effectiveness for conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and phobias, chronic pain, rehabilitation, and addictions. However, more research is needed before the use of VR is considered a clinical standard of practice in some areas. The recent release of first generation consumer VR products signals a change in the viability of further developing VR systems and applications. As applications increase so will the need for good quality research to best understand what makes VR effective, and when VR is not appropriate for clinical services. As the field progresses, it is hopeful that the flexibility afforded by this technology will yield superior outcomes and a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms impacting those outcomes.

Keywords: Addictions; Anxiety; Chronic pain; Exposure therapy; Mental health; PTSD; Phobias; Psychiatry; Rehabilitation; Virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Psychiatry / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy*