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Virtual Reality in Exposure Therapy: The Next Frontier 

Virtual Reality in Exposure Therapy: The Next Frontier
Virtual Reality in Exposure Therapy: The Next Frontier

Eric Malbos

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date: 26 October 2021

This chapter reviews the emerging field of virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET). It introduces new tools available to the 21st-century therapist—head-mounted displays, motion trackers, and data gloves, which are all designed to allow patients to interact efficiently and realistically with three-dimensional representations of disorder-specific stimuli. The processes of habituation and extinction, which are thought to account for the effectiveness of traditional exposure therapy, work in virtual environments as well. Studies have shown some promise across a range of psychiatric disorders, including various phobias, other anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and even schizophrenia. With the necessary technology becoming more affordable and widely available, the assumption that the equipment needed to use VRET is too expensive will no longer hold. Instead, VRET may eventually contribute to savings in cost and time and to improved access to treatment.

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