The application value of virtual reality in psychotherapy - Dr


Abstract: Virtual reality technology based on computer technology, can provide users with approximate real, immersive and interactive virtual environment. In recent years, VR technology has been used in the research and development of new technologies and clinical applications for the treatment of mental and psychological problems. Among them, THE combination of VR technology and exposure technology is most commonly used in the treatment of a variety of mental diseases, especially fear and anxiety disorders. Compared with traditional psychotherapy, virtual reality technology has a good therapeutic effect and a broad development prospect.

Key words: Virtual reality; Exposed. Fear; Anxiety; Psychological treatment

With the progress of society, people's demand for health is no longer limited to physiological aspects. Mental health is of greater significance to individual social adaptation and improvement of life quality. With the development of science and technology, psychological therapy as an important way to maintain mental health, its available technical means are more and more abundant. Since the emergence of virtual reality (VR) technology, due to its characteristics of immersion, interaction and imagination, experts in the field of psychotherapy paid attention to it as early as 2005, and predicted that it would become an important technical means of psychotherapy in the next ten years [1]. With the development of computer technology and breakthroughs in 5G network, artificial intelligence, HIGH-DEFINITION display and other related technologies, VR technology has gradually changed from an early toy to an important technology in scientific research, psychology, medicine, aerospace, military and other fields [2], and its application in psychological therapy has become increasingly extensive. In recent years, there have been a large number of studies and case reports on the application of VR technology in psychotherapy. This paper sorts out these studies and summarizes the application of VR technology in the field of psychotherapy, hoping to provide new ideas for the application of VR technology in psychotherapy in China.

1. Application of VR technology in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder is also called childhood hyperactivity disorder. In China, the incidence of ADHD is about 5.7%, showing an increasing trend year by year [3]. It usually occurs in children under 14 years of age and is characterized by symptoms of attention deficit, hyperactivity and impulsivity that are not appropriate for the child's own age and last for more than 6 months. Children with ADHD have many risks due to their impulsive behavior. Some foreign researchers [4] used virtual environment to simulate the situation of choosing traffic junctions to study the potential accident tendency of ADHD adolescents. The results found that children with ADHD had more unsafe road crossing behavior and twice as many collisions as those in the control group. It proves that VR technology can simulate high-risk situations, help to identify the performance of children with mental illness in various dangerous situations, and can be used to teach such children how to behave properly in such situations. Later, domestic researchers also used VR technology to study ADHD children, which promoted the correction of abnormal behaviors of ADHD children [5].

2. Application of VR technology in phobia treatment

Both systematic desensitization therapy and exposure therapy have good effects on phobias. Domestic experts' research on the treatment of photophobia by applying VR technology revealed that the therapeutic effect of VR technology on photophobia mainly depends on the degree of realism of virtual scenes and the degree of immersion of the treated people in the scene [6]. VR simulates the source of fear, and the subjects are directly exposed to the fear similar to reality, or gradually increase the level and true degree of fear through VR technology. Even the psychologist can also enter the virtual scene with the subject, and help the subject to face his psychological fear through verbal guidance or action demonstration, and give psychological correction and treatment at the same time. In a foreign study of 30 subjects, the subjects were placed in a simulated altitude, and after two and a half years of treatment, 90% of the subjects dared to take the glass elevator. In the virtual world, no matter how horrible and realistic the scene of manufacturing, it will not harm personal safety, but also accurate, straightforward description of their feelings, more accurate than traditional psychological methods, more convenient for psychological doctors to analyze the treatment effect. At present, VR technology has been widely used in the psychological treatment of fear of heights, flying, animals, driving, claustrophobia, social phobia and so on, and achieved good results.

3. Application of VR technology in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to the delayed appearance or long-term mental disorder caused by major disasters, threatening stress events or heavy pressure. It is characterized by the unelimination of the painful experience that has passed over time, and its psychological and psychological disorders. And in a state of chronic anxiety. Some researchers are applying VR to 9/11 survivors and the damage caused by earthquakes. Studies have shown that patients who underwent VR exposure therapy experienced a significant reduction in symptoms. Some foreign researchers evaluated the efficacy of VR exposure on PTSD through comprehensive analysis of electronic database literature. The results showed that VR is an effective treatment for PTSD, which can make patients better engaged, activate their traumatic memories and overcome their fear. Several subsequent studies have confirmed the effectiveness of VR in treating PTSD.

4. Application of VR technology in the treatment of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia (Schizophrenia, SCZ) for short, is a group of psychiatric diseases with unknown etiology. It has many disorders such as thinking, emotion and behavior, and is characterized by disharmony between mental activity and environment. Its clinical symptoms are diverse and complex, including positive symptoms, negative symptoms, cognitive dysfunction, affective disorders, behavioral disorders and so on. The application of VR technology, through headset display, data gloves and other equipment and virtual environment interaction, simulation of patients in life and may appear auditory hallucinations, hallucinations, etc., and through the virtual environment to record the patient's visual, tactile, auditory and emotional response. Therapists can also participate in this process by helping the patient to spontaneously change the perception that the hallucinations are false and unreal, and that they occur because the disease encourages the patient to ignore them in life. VR technology can help patients realize mistakes, change unreasonable cognition, emotion and behavior, enhance their ability to adapt to daily life, and improve their ability to deal with various social information. These research results have been applied to the treatment of SCZ by domestic researchers and achieved good results.

5. Application of VR technology in autism treatment

Autism Spectrum disorders (ASD) is a widespread developmental disorder characterized by social interaction disorders and limited repetitive behaviors. Individuals with ASD will experience tension, anxiety, fear and other negative emotions when facing stressful situations, which will affect social functions. Studies have shown that the most effective way to intervene in anxiety disorders and specific phobias of ASD group is VR technology-led intervention therapy. Recent studies have further confirmed that VR training can improve emotional cognition and self-emotional expression of ASD patients, with good generalization. After completing the tasks of social reciprocity, emotion recognition and emotion expression in different situations, patients' social skills were significantly improved and more positive social behaviors appeared.

To sum up, VR technology has many advantages in psychotherapy. VR system can be used to design a variety of environments that are close to reality and interact with each other, so as to obtain results similar to the treatment in the real environment and reduce the risk of the treatment itself. Due to the controllability of simulation environment, the application of VR is also more flexible and efficient, and the application range is wider. However, most current VR devices interact with the virtual environment by head-mounted display and touch controller. In the process of wearing head-mounted display and interacting with gamepad, subjects may experience dizziness and fatigue. At present, the price and maintenance cost of VR equipment are high, the construction of virtual environment also needs a lot of resources, there are certain technical requirements for psychological workers operating equipment, VR equipment involved in computer graphics, computer programs and other technologies are difficult to customize, all of which limit the scope of VR technology.

However, in modern society, people are facing more and more pressure from family and social environment, mental health problems are becoming increasingly prominent, and the demand for psychological treatment and other services is rising. VR technology, with its unique advantages, has long-term and efficient auxiliary functions in psychological therapy, psychological counseling and psychological talent cultivation. Advanced VR technology can collect and sort out patients' characteristics in perception, attention, memory, emotion and other aspects more efficiently and quickly, providing favorable conditions for further development of treatment plans and implementation of treatment process.


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