A new study by the British Association forBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies suggests that combining cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) with virtual reality technology could help alleviate anxiety symptoms IRL.
The study comprised of 15 patients with generalised social anxiety disorder, who attended up to 16 one-hour VR-CBT sessions once or twice a week. PsyPostreports that during each session, participants would navigate one of four virtual environments: a street, bus, cafe, or supermarket. Patients would then complete post-session questionnaires, and keep a diary about their social activity, anxiety, and paranoia after each treatment, and at a six-month follow-up.
While two patients dropped out of the study, the remaining participants reported a reduction in social anxiety and depressive symptoms, and an improvement in their quality of life following treatment.
Given the UK’s broken mental health system, and the fact that alternative anxiety treatments like CBD oil are on the rise, it’s encouraging to see new and innovative methods being used to research the debilitating disorder. Though more research is needed, it’s definitely a step in the right direction to remove the stigma surrounding mental health and help those in need.