Virtual Reality to Treat Anxiety & Other Disorders? Find Out How

Even though the status of mental health is not that well recognized in Pakistan yet, there are many efforts being made nonetheless. While Pakistan is still struggling to pass a law on mental health, significant progress has been made in the world of mental health, therapy, and psychology in general.

Exposure therapy is a technique used in behavior therapy to treat anxiety disorders; it basically involves exposing the client to the object they fear, keeping in mind they are not endangered by it to eliminate that fear they have.

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In comes, a patient that had developed acute anxiety over the cross streets where the crash occurred, and he was unable to drive to the route that carried so many painful memories. Dr. Dawn Jewell recently treated the person with exposure therapy. But instead of taking the client there physically, Dr. Jewell made him revisit the place through virtual reality.

Dr. Jewell is among those few psychologists that are testing out Limbix, a Silicon Valley start-up called that offers exposure therapy through Daydream View, the Google headset that works in tandem with a smartphone.

Speaking about the device she said,

It provides exposure in a way that patients feel safe, we can go to a location together, and the patient can tell me what they’re feeling and what they’re thinking.”

The device basically recreates outdoor locations by tapping into another Google product, Street View, a vast online database of photos that delivers panoramic scenes of roadways and other locations around the world. She has treated two people with the help of Limbix.

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Limbix is backed by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, and is less than a year old. The creators of its new service, including its chief executive and co-founder, Benjamin Lewis, worked in the seminal virtual reality efforts at Google and Facebook. Although the technology builds up on more than 20 years of research and clinical trials on exposure therapy with regards to virtual reality.

Use of such a device can tremendously help psychologists treat clients, with not only anxiety, but also PTSD. According to a clinical psychologist as University of Southern California

We feel pretty confident that exposure therapy using V.R. can supplement what a patient’s imagination alone can do.

This indeed is a great innovation and can do wonders for the future of exposure therapy in general. If the scope of counseling and therapy picks up its speed in Pakistan, it can be used to deal with clients that suffer from severe anxiety, PTSD, etc.