Definition of a VR-based protocol to treat social phobia
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: CYBERPSYCHOLOGY & BEHAVIOR
Förlag: MARY ANN LIEBERT INC PUBL
Social phobia is an anxiety disorder that is accessible to two forms of treatment yielding scientifically validated results: drugs and cognitive-behavioral therapies. Graded exposure to feared social situations is fundamental to obtain an improvement of the anxious symptoms. Traditionally, exposure therapies are done either in vivo or by imagining the situations. In vivo exposure is sometimes difficult to control and many patients have some difficulties in using imagination. Virtual reality (VR) seems to bring significant advantages. It allows exposures to numerous and varied situations. This paper reports the definition of a clinical protocol whose purpose is to assess the efficiency of a VR therapy compared to a CBT and to the absence of treatment for social phobic patients. It explains the illness' diagnosis and its usual treatments. It exposes all the architecture of the study, the assessment tools, the content and unfold of the therapy sessions. It finally reports first results of a clinical trial in a between-group design in 10 patients suffering from social phobia. The virtual environments used in the treatment reproduce four situations that social phobics feel the most threatening: performance, intimacy, scrutiny and assertiveness. With the help of the therapist, the patient learns adapted cognitions and behaviors with the aim of reducing her or his anxiety in the corresponding real situations. The novelty of our work is to address a group of situations that the phobic patient is most likely to experience and to treat patients according to a precise protocol.
- Technology and Engineering
- ISSN: 1094-9313