Anxiety Treatment with Virtual Reality Exposure (cont.)
Moderator: Which anxieties are you looking at focusing on in the future at Virtually Better?
Dr. Rothbaum: We currently have a study for the fear of flying and are about to start a study for the fear of public speaking. And I'm very anxious, no pun intended, to start treating the fear of driving in VR so I can get off of the Atlanta interstate with my patients. We also have on the list treatment of insects and small animals and possibly obsessive compulsive disorder. We are also using VR as a distractor for kids with cancer undergoing procedures.
Moderator: Fear of driving in Atlanta! We'll be having an expert on to talk about road rage and Atlanta driving in the near future! We are almost out of time. Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to share with us?
Dr. Hodges: The VR therapy, I think it's important to realize that we are just beginning this. My belief is that in a few years this is how much of therapy will be done, because it is so much easier to do it this way and although there are still just a few VR therapists, there's quite a large number of therapists who have shown interest in this, and have been from all over the world. So I meet at least once a year with therapists from Europe, Japan, all of whom are contributing to the development of these techniques and are very excited about its potential. One of the reasons that VB exists, is to provide software and hardware to therapists to help us better understand how and when to use VE therapy.
Grapp: Just to bring up a few things, the cost of hardware has really come down for VR. That allows us to put a VR system into a therapists office at a price they can afford, and bring this to a much wider audience. As Larry mentioned, we're beginning a clinical partners program, where we're looking for therapists around the country who are interested in adding VR to their practice. We are going to exhibit at the American Psychological Association Conference in Washington, DC, if people want to see this and try it. Also, they should feel free to call us.
Dr. Rothbaum: Our goal is to somehow enable more people to be treated and treated better, and treated cheaper. So we don't build environments just because we can, or because they're cool. We try to build environments that can make treatment better. For example, many patients are reluctant to enter into regular exposure therapy, because they are too scared to expose themselves to flying, driving or heights. Whereas they will enter into VR exposure therapy, because it allows them to keep their feet on the ground, but still expose themselves to airplanes, for example. So I'm hoping it will get more people treated. I'm also hoping it will encourage more therapists to conduct exposure therapy if we can make it easier for them. For example, before we had VR, and I had to treat someone for the fear of flying in Atlanta, it was a huge pain. We had to drive to the airport, park, and arrange for an airplane, and if I had to actually fly with them, it was very time consuming, and expensive. So many therapists won't treat the fear of flying. So we are hoping to make this therapy available to more patients and therapists who might be otherwise reluctant.
Moderator: We are out of time. I'd like to thank Dr. Barbara Rothbaum, Larry Hodges, Ph.D. and Ken Grapp, M.Ed., of Virtually Better. You've been a wonderful guests. Good luck with your studies.
For more information, please visit the Virtually Better website at www.virtuallybetter.com.
For questions about anxiety disorders, please visit our new member to member message board "Anxiety and Panic Disorders: Newly Diagnosed". This board is for members who have been recently diagnosed with a form of anxiety or panic disorder, such as phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Post your questions to Patricia A. Farrell, PhD, who answers member inquiries weekly. And don't forget to visit our Atlanta Message Board. Get your questions answered by an Atlanta expert.
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