How does it work?
Why not traditional therapy?
Research in classical conditioning shows that fear can be treated by exposing the patient to the fear-inducing stimuli several times.
This way, the human brain can learn that nothing harmful happens in the dreaded situation;
the next time the patient finds him- or herself in the same situation, he or she will be able to better control his or her physical reactions.
This research states that phobic anxiety is a conditioned response, triggered by a conditioned stimulus (the phobic situation). Building an immersion environment gives us control over the variables and stimuli we are exposing the patient to.
For the first application of our therapy software, a trained therapist will be present. Patients will complete further exercises on their own; however, they will have the opportunity to contact their therapists via an emergency button included in the application.
Getting through a traditional psychotherapy concerning acrophobia means that you have to visit tall buildings assisted by your therapist.
It is easy to see why patients would perceive it as uncomfortable to be exposed to the curious looks of passersby in this moment of intense vulnerability.
Moreover, most people suffering from acrophobia never even get a chance to overcome their fear. The time of waiting for the initial interview with a psychotherapist averages seven months. After this, the would-be patient has to wait another three months until the first actual therapy session takes place.
Partially this is due to the fact that there are currently only 13 500 approved therapists in Germany. This means that there are 2200 people with acrophobia per one therapist. Further complications are caused by the health insurances not bearing the costs for all types of psychotherapy - virtual reality therapy is not included in their service guidelines yet.
Advantages of Virtual Reality Therapy
Psychological studies have identified that virtual reality therapy of acrophobia is just effective as exposure to fear in vivo. Whereas traditional therapy is not available to everyone, regular middle-class citizens in Germany should be able to afford the Oculus Rift by the end of 2015. Our therapy software could thus be accessed by almost anyone in need.
By working with the Oculus Rift, patients are free to choose the times and intervals of their therapy. A therapist would be able to check on and measure the patient’s progress via objective tools within the software. This would greatly increase efficiency compared to the time-consuming one-to-one meetings of traditional therapy.