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New Zealand VR App Helps Conquer Phobias

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New Zealander Julie Raine battles her trypanophobia (fear of needles) with virtual reality exposure therapy.

Credit: Cameron Lacey et al.

oVRcome, a phone-based virtual reality (VR) application designed to treat phobias, successfully completed a six-week clinical trial, according to researchers at New Zealand’s University of Otago.

Technology entrepreneur Adam Hutchinson, in consultation with clinical psychologists, developed a prototype of oVRcome, which relies on behavioral treatment exposure therapy to treat phobias by safely exposing a patient to an anxiety-causing situation.

More than 100 participants have used the app to treat fears of needles, spiders, flying, heights, or dogs with a combination of mindfulness modules and virtual reality exposure therapy.

Cameron Lacey at New Zealand's University of Otago said, "With virtual reality, you can be in your own home, be transported to an environment which has those feared stimuli—be it heights or spiders—in a predictable way, at your convenience."

From The Guardian (U.K.)
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Abstracts Copyright © 2022 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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