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Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT)

Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) combined with biofeedback is highly effective in helping patients overcome phobias, including the fear of flying, as well as OCD, PTSD and more.

Dr. Robert Reiner is one of the nation’s leading experts in Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT). His work with VRT has been featured in many media sources including National Geographic, ABC and The New York Times.

Learn more by reading below or set up an initial consultation to begin Virtual Reality Therapy with Dr. Robert Reiner.


What is Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT)? 

VRT is a form of exposure therapy that immerses the patient into a virtual environment 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 feared object or activity (e.g. flying in an airplane or speaking in front of a large group of people). The therapist maintains control of the entire experience thereby allowing exposure to the portions of the experience that create the most anxiety.

Virtual Reality Therapy

Virtual Reality Therapy with Samsung Gear VR

How is VRT combined with biofeedback?

In order to reduce anxiety, the VRT experience must be paired with a tool for inducing relaxation. The idea is that if a person can change their psychological state during the virtual experience, with practice, they can be taught to make the same change in real life.

Biofeedback allows the patient to see how they are physiologically responding to stress by monitoring heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, blood flow and even brainwaves. The therapist uses biofeedback monitors to make patients aware of their reactions during the virtual exposure and ultimately teach them how to control these responses.

RSA training, also known as heart rate variability biofeedback is extremely effective in teaching the benefits of abdominal breathing because it gives a true understanding of how the body responds to the way we breathe and how our breathing can actually make us more relaxed or more nervous. The patient is taught a breathing technique (deep belly breathing at a rate of 5-7 breaths per minute) that synchronizes respiration with heartbeat to produce sinus arrhythmia, a state in which it impossible to feel anxiety. Once the patient has learned the correct breathing they will be able to practice it in conjunction with the virtual reality experience, then without the biofeedback monitor and eventually to control anxiety in real life situations.

Biofeedback Training Session

Biofeedback Training Session.

What are the next steps? 

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 testqEEG brain scanor other psychological testing to fully understand your history and diagnosis.  Same and next day appointments are typically available Monday through Thursday.

For those who are in need of rapid intervention, the initial consultation may be combined with the first Virtual Reality Training session to speed up results (please speak with the front desk). 

Helpful Virtual Reality Therapy Resources: 

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