Virtual Reality Therapy

Old Problems, New Solutions

     Behavioral Health Associates provides the latest in technological advances to treat issues such as phobias, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, and general relaxation instruction. Using the most advanced virtual reality (VR) goggles and equipment we provide a safe therapeutic setting to provide our clients with a greater sense of master and control over stressful life situations.

     VR offers customized virtual environments that are intended to provide a controlled method by which the client can encounter and gain authority over situations that previously were too difficult to face.  VR places the client in a computerized real-time video and audio environment where they "experience" the feared moment. The client wears a sophisticated headgear that provides for an immersive experience. Following a process of graduated exposure therapy the therapist maintains control over multiple features of the situation so that the client is able to approach their fear and develop and deploy strategies that help them to overcome the stress. VR involvement allows the therapist to find the best fit between the individual and the challenges they face during a standard therapy session, all within the comfort of our office.

    Services are provided where an initial intake assessment is completed where anxiety provoking situations are identified and therapeutic steps for mastery are developed. An introduction to the VR equipment is provided and the client is provided home study material to assist in understanding how VR will be used to accomplish the identified goals.

Then the client is engaged in a series of progressive step-wise VR sessions carefully managed by the therapist to provide exposure to the identified stress situations. Clients are involved in practicing relaxation and cognitive strategies as they are exposed to the stressor so that they are able to develop a skill set that demonstrates their ability to manage the situation. Each stage can be replayed until the client has achieved their desired comfort state. At every point the therapist is able to monitor the situation that the client is experiencing and can provide guided direction.

Therapeutic goals can usually be obtained in 8 to 12 sessions. Sessions vary in length from 45-60 minutes. Current research studies show that treatment gains in using VR are comparable to traditional therapy. VR may best be understood as an extension and enhancement of traditional therapy techniques. VR allows for the use of exposure using new computerized technology in the confines of the clinic office, free of concerns about public scrutiny and confidentiality.

     VR services are available in a variety of therapeutic situations including:
          *Fear of Heights
          *Fear of Public Speaking
          *Guided Meditation
          *Relaxation Instruction
          *Flying Anticipatory Anxiety Management
          *Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

     Advantages of VR Therapy include:
          *Reduced costs as compared to traditional "in-vivo" exposure (use of actual life situations)
          *Ability to remain in the clinic office while maintaining total control over the experience
          *Offering a new method of treatment for clients who have not previously responded to therapy
          *Training sessions can be repeated at a pace that maintains the client's level of arousal

To find out more about VR services available from BHA please call our office at 806-795-3911.

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