Virtual reality and psychotherapy: these are its qualities

In recent years, we have experienced a great breakthrough in new technologies. This evolution has seen its influence in all areas that we know: communication, leisure, marketing, commerce … So, without a doubt, it has brought about a change in all areas of our daily life, in the way we communicate with the others. of the world, to the way we have fun, work or study.

Thus, it is clear that such developments could affect other fields, such as medicine or psychology. And so it was. This way, technology was gradually introduced into psychotherapy.

    Virtual reality applied to therapy

    From using new technology to help the patient complete tasks (such as sending useful media files) or performing psychotherapy herself online.

    However, there is much more technology can do. Current psychotherapy already uses innovative methodologies such as virtual reality therapy. This consists of using glasses in the form of a helmet with lenses that allow the visualization of images. These glasses incorporate position trackers that allow you to detect the movements of the head and, thus, to present different images according to them.

    All this is complemented by the use of headphones, which allows you to create a greater sense of immersion and, therefore, presence. In this way, the user replaces the current physical reality with a virtual environment.

    Thus, through this sense of presence and interaction, this technology is able to create a virtual experience (computer-created environment) that induces people with cognitive and emotional responses similar to those that would occur in the real world in this same environment. For this reason, virtual reality is already being used to deal with various problems, Mainly: phobias, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, depression and addictions. In addition, it is useful for training certain techniques, such as relaxation or meditation.

      Benefits of using virtual reality in psychotherapy

      The use of virtual reality in psychotherapy can have many advantages which, until now, were difficult to obtain compared to traditional psychotherapy. Some of them are:

      1. Increase accessibility

      In some cases, such as phobias, live exposure was difficult to obtain or unavailable. Traditional psychotherapy has reduced this disadvantage with the use of imaginative exposure.

      However, sometimes it was very expensive for the patient to reach a high level of imagination of the desired situation. Through the creation of virtual environments, it is possible to delve into the specific situations that are necessary.

      2. Possibility of repetition

      Because these environments are virtually generated, it is possible to relive them as many times as necessary, as well as to enter different events or variables depending on the time of treatment.

      3. Facilitates personalization of treatment

      Beyond accessibility, it is important that the exposure be adapted to each particular problem. Manipulating 360º videos of a real patient situation can be useful for the exhibition.

        4.Allows full control of every event

        In other words, the psychologist has the advantage of having controlled each of the possible virtual events that can be introduced during the time of the exposure, unlike the exposure in the imaginary, where it is almost impossible to have control. of every detail imagined.

        5. Promotes an active role in the health of the patient

        This advantage can be promoted through the recording of 360º videos that the user can achieve in his daily environment.

        It is a safe environment where nothing dangerous related to the problem actually happens (How is it that the plane collides with a building) and that it keeps confidentiality by not being necessary for any other real person, except the professional, to be present at the time of exposure or training.

        6. Reduce processing costs

        It is as it happens in the accompaniment of the psychotherapist to the real situation.

        7. Improves acceptance of treatment

        In some cases, traditional psychotherapy may be rejected by the patient. However, computer-directed treatment makes it easier to start treatment when it is treated in a simulated environment.

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