Augmented Reality and Psychotherapy


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Many psychologists are interested in the potential of augmented reality for psychotherapy. In a recent article from Psychology Today, Dr. Leslie Sekerka argues that “the therapeutic use of AR is not limited to mental health.”  Augmented reality has been used successfully in a variety of different settings and can be useful in many different scenarios.

For example, it’s possible to use AR technology for cognitive behavioral therapy- “exposure therapy” which helps people deal with their anxiety by gradually exposing them to what they fear most up close and personal without any danger or harm coming to them. 

In order to treat anxiety and fear, fears and anxieties are eliminated with the Augmented Reality application, as well as the Virtual reality application.

How does augmented reality help with psychological problems?

Arguably the most significant application of AR is in treating anxiety disorders. Therapeutically, one can produce an “impending threat” such as a sword or other weapon and display this to the patient with sufficient proximity that takes into account both their sense of sight and hearing. This produces an unwanted response and so-called “threat theory agitation”, which is moderated by the presentation of a virtual cape or shield at just the right time, thus leading to a reduction in perceived risk and arousal – effectively reducing the chances of a panic attack happening. 

What Is Augmented Reality? How It Is Implemented?

The papers and VR glasses can be used to eliminate the individual’s concerns. For example, if you are afraid of insects or spiders, this treatment method gives you the opportunity to look and touch an insect image. Since this increases the sense of reality, more effective results can be obtained in therapies.

In Augmented Reality treatment, the therapist can determine the number or size of insects.

In particular, interactive augmented reality exposure therapy to treat arachnophobia, ie fear of spiders, has very effective results in the client.

What Kind of Treatment Is Virtual Reality?

In order to treat anxiety and fear, virtual reality is applied in cases where desensitization studies are not sufficient only by talking or imagination.

Fear of insects and spiders, which are among the most common phobias in society, can be eliminated thanks to new generation technologies. With the augmented reality application, people with insect or spider phobia can learn to cope with their fears. According to experts, therapies involving behavioral interventions rather than traditional insight-based psychotherapies are effective in the treatment of such fears.

The Feared Object Is Transported Into The Therapy Room

In the augmented reality application, the object of fear is carried to the therapy room in order to expose the person to the disturbing stimulus. With the software that enables the study of spider and insect phobia in the system, the person can see the insect in three dimensions in the therapy room and perceive it as if an insect or spider is walking on his hand.

Phone Is Used Instead of Glasses

The experts state that the augmented reality application is a type of virtual reality application.

“In virtual reality applications, we were enabling the person to experience some situations with the help of glasses. In augmented reality applications, we do not wear glasses. In this application, a mobile phone is used. Thanks to a software installed on the mobile phone, the person is at that moment.

Visual stimulation is provided in three dimensions in the environment. It allows the person to perceive the bug or spider as if it is really on his hand or arm. When the person looks at the area captured by the camera of the phone, the insects appear in that visual area in three dimensions thanks to the software on the phone.”

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Aaron Beck

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About Author

I was born in Sweden but came to America to study. I'm doing my master's degree on Emdr here. I love to explore different psychotherapy methods and share this information. For your questions, you can contact me at my e-mail address.

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