This story is from the category Theraputic Worlds
Date posted: 04/08/2007
Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD is the third largest mental health care problem in the world.
At the thought of addressing a classroom or a larger auditorium packed to its capacity some people break out into a sweat, their legs turn to jelly, and their hearts begin to pound wildly or go light-headed.
US-based Illumenta is introducing a Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) that will recreate situations, which are most feared and use a combination of desensitisation techniques that would if used over a prolonged period of time gradually help people tide over any type of phobia, fear or addiction.
In VRET those who are afraid of speaking up in front of a large audience, are made to stand on a makeshift podium and given the necessary paraphernalia of goggles, headset and earphones to wear and all lights are dimmed. "A typical classroom with noisy students and blaring music comes up before the client and he or she feels as if they are really standing inside a classroom," says Manish Bhan President and CEO of Illumenta.
The VR therapy uses the technique of exposure, after immersion, that is a controlled display of the fear stimuli and so if a person is afraid of speaking in front of a group of people he is progressively introduced to a small audience and then to a large audience and eventually to a large auditorium," says Bhan.
The whole session is recorded on video and shown to patients to help them gauge the level of treatment.
"People whom we have worked on are very average people ranging from college-going students to young adults who have developed wrong responses to particular situations. We try to teach people in virtual environments not to fear," says Mehta. Virtual reality corrects the wrong responses to situations, she adds.
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