At Behavioral Associates we combine Virtual Reality Therapy with Biofeedback in helping patients overcome phobias, a powerful combination with a 90% success rate.
This treatment method teaches patients relaxation strategies that are practiced when confronting their fears in a virtual world before using them in the real world. At your initial consultation you will be matched with a therapist and a treatment plan will be devised to help you learn to effectively manage your phobia.
Phobias are the most common form of psychological disorders. They can be defined as irrational fears about objects or situations. People tend to see their phobias as unreasonable, but feel incapable of giving up the fear, or confronting the situation in a calm fashion. Reasoning with the person as to the foolishness of the fear has no effect.
Phobias can be categorized into three types:
- Simple, or situational phobias. These are fears of animals and insects, fears of injuries or injections, or fears of specific situations such as heights, tunnels, flying, or thunderstorms.
- Social phobias. These are fears of being judged by people, or being seen as foolish. It results in the individual avoiding many social situations which the person believes he or she should otherwise attend.
- Agoraphobia. This is a somewhat more complicated phobia where the person believes that one will have a panic attack in certain situations that are difficult to escape from, such as open spaces, or tunnels. The individual is more focused on the danger of having a panic attack, rather than believing the situation is dangerous.
Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) for Phobias
Dr. Robert Reiner is internationally known for his work in treating phobias, such as the fear of flying, using Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) and Biofeedback. VRT immerses the patient into a virtual airline flight using a head mounted display with a 3-D image similar to those used for virtual reality games. It creates a visual, auditory and sensory environment that psychologically exposes the patient to the entire flying experience. The therapist maintains control of the details of the simulated flight thereby allowing exposure to the portions that create the most anxiety (e.g. take-off, landing, turbulence or even a thunder storm). During this time the patient is encouraged to practice tools they have been taught to induce deep relaxation. The idea behind VRT is that when a person learns to change their physiological response during the virtual experience, with practice, they generalize these newly acquired skills to make the same changes in real life.
Example of Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) Session
Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) and Biofeedback for Phobias
What is the process?
Patients must first complete an initial consultation with Dr. Robert Reiner (Adults) or Dr. Heather Davidson (Children, Teens). After the initial consultation, you will be set up with one of our expert staff members based on your goals, availability and treatment type. Treatment may require you to complete an MMPI-2 personality test, qEEG brain scan or other psychological testing to fully understand your history and diagnosis. Same and next day appointments are typically available Monday through Thursday.