philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


How virtual reality may help to treat fear, paranoid thoughts

In a paper published in The Lancet Psychiatry, the researchers state that to their knowledge, theirs is the first randomized controlled trial of virtual reality (VR)-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that has attempted to improve social functioning and decrease paranoid thoughts in people with psychotic disorders.

"The addition," explains lead author Roos M. C. A. Pot-Kolder, from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, "of virtual reality CBT to standard treatment reduced paranoid feelings, anxiety, and use of safety behaviors in social situations, compared with standard treatment alone."

The study compared two groups of similar people with psychotic disorder: one (the intervention group) received the usual treatment plus VR CBT, and the other (the "waiting list control group") continued to receive the usual treatment.

Altogether, 116 participants took part in the trial. They were randomly assigned in equal numbers to either the intervention group or the control group (58 in each group).

The main difference between CBT and traditional forms of psychotherapy, such as psychoanalysis, is that CBT focuses primarily on current problems and how to solve them and less on trying to understand the past.

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