ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2012, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (8): 1277-1286.

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Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy of Anxiety Disorders

WANG Guang-Xin;LI Li   

  1. (Psychology Department of Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China)
  • Received:2011-10-12 Revised:1900-01-01 Online:2012-08-15 Published:2012-08-15
  • Contact: WANG Guang-Xin

Abstract: Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) is an altered form of behavioral therapy and may be a possible alternative to standard in vivo exposure. Virtual reality integrates real-time computer graphics, body tracking devices, visual displays, and other sensory input devices to immerse patients in a computer-generated virtual environment. The review has focused on the efficacy of VRET in treating anxiety disorders: phobias, agoraphobia, fear of flying and posttraumatic stress disorder. The well-controlled study shows that virtual reality exposure therapy is effective and efficient to treat anxiety disorder. The client who received the VRET shows significant improvement in the self-efficiency and regains the feeling of control over the situation. The skin conduction will be a better predictor for the efficiency of VRET than heart rate. The cognitive and psychophysiological mechanism of VRET is also discussed. More randomized clinical trials in which VRET is compared with standard exposure are required, and the mediating and moderating variables that influence VR treatment effectiveness as well. The psychotherapy will see the new trend: integrating functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) with virtual reality to treat mental disorder.

Key words: virtual reality exposure therapy, anxiety disorders, cognitive-behavior therapy, cognitive mechanisms, psychophysiological mechanisms