This…this absolutely sounds like something out of a science fiction story. But I saw this story in Axios, and now I am absolutely fascinated by its potential.
So, here’s the basic gist, per the article: Virtual Reality can be used to simulate social settings and help the fifteen million Americans who suffer from social anxiety. It does this by creating facsimiles of social situations, allowing individuals to practice coping skills and learn how to better interact with members of the public. At least one study found that this could help to reduce symptoms of social anxiety.
This has been wondering – where else may virtual reality be able to play a useful role in terms of therapeutic applications?
As it turns out, plenty of spaces.
According to one article in Scientific American, Virtual Reality has been used to treat disorders like PTSD since the 1990s. However, technology and our therapeutic understanding of how the mind works is continuing to advance. As a result, new treatments are being invented to treat things like depression, addiction, and certain phobias.
Virtual Reality offers many benefits. For therapy that requires exposure therapy, it can be less intimidating and frightening than other forms of therapy, allowing individuals to adjust slowly to real-world ideas. “Safe, controlled environments” can be created, and a therapist can be piped in, allowing for the delivery of therapeutic services. It’s not done yet – and quality control remains a huge issue – but the potential is clearly out there for VR to be effective.
Much of the effectiveness of Virtual Reality for therapy relies on the design and quality of the technology in question. Is it immersive enough? And have the therapeutic protocols designed been proven to be useful? Remember, this isn’t like a video game – something that seems cool isn’t enough – it has to actually function and help the human mind.
I can’t lie – I’m absolutely fascinated by this potential. As you may know from reading previous blog entries of mine, I love video games and technology, and I am absolutely fascinated by the potential it may have to be helpful in the mental health space. Of course, none of us would just want to see this be used because it sounds cool – if this is going to be used, it has to be because it has a therapeutic benefit that simply cannot be matched elsewhere. That being said, we know that technology has always been an important part of any treatment plan, and I am absolutely fascinated by the potential that it appears virtual reality may have for mental health.
Any thoughts about this technology? Any experiences you want to share? Let us know in the comments below!