Exciting News – VR Therapy has arrived at Lighthouse Psychology!
Lighthouse Psychology in Dunmore East is now able to incorporate virtual reality (VR) therapy into part of a patient’s treatment plan for a range of mental health issues, particularly anxiety or phobias.
Incorporating Virtual Reality therapy into evidenced based Cognitive Behavioural Treatments has produced a 90% success rate for clients who have opted for this treatment.
What is Virtual Reality Therapy?
VR technology, which includes a headset and earphones, submerges patients into an alternate world which they can fully interact with, helping them confront perceived problems and challenges. It works at the patient’s own speed and without rush. The beauty of this method is that it includes constant biofeedback. Biofeedback ensures that the patient is challenged enough to steadily move forward but is never stressed. The treating psychologist is able to monitor the patient’s reactions while being fully present in the room with the patient.
The future of psychology
Dr Chrissie Tizzard Chartered Consultant psychologist at Lighthouse, said: “Virtual reality is still relatively new but it has showed enormous potential in treating patients quickly. Best of all, it can help patients without causing them additional stress. Virtual Reality therapy was originally developed to help military personnel based in remote locations with a diagnosis of PTSD”
Since Lighthouse started using VR, they have already seen exceptional results. As the technology develops further and professionals continue to explore how it can benefit patients , VR is expected to take central stage in future decades. At present VR is just one option available at Lighthouse alongside the range of traditional psychological interventions
How does the VR treatment help?
The VR technology allows the psychologist to create a platform where patients are able to escape from their worries and break down concerns into manageable chunks, resulting in a more effective way of dealing with them.
Aisling had a fear of flying, she needed to conquer this. Her husband had booked a trip to Cuba. Aisling was terrified. She had not been on a plane in 15 years. After calling lighthouse, Aisling booked herself in for 6 sessions of VR facilitated CBT. During traditional therapy, she had short sessions of virtual reality therapy to reduce her fear of flying. This was done at Aisling’s pace. She was in control at all times. While sitting in a comfortable armchair, she was able to enter a virtual environment which began in her own bedroom packing for the holiday. The gradual exposure over several weeks, ended with Aisling arriving in Cuba, happy and relaxed.
Aisling was able to achieve this with assistance from her psychologist, (who was constantly monitoring her biofeedback). Aisling was in control of the process at every step of the way).
While this therapy could have been carried out without VR, it would have taken considerably longer, needed several trips to Dublin or Cork airport and involved a much higher cost.
This method has also proved invaluable for the treatment of phobias. Patients are helped to face their fears and develop improved coping mechanisms in a safe and controlled environment.
Applying VR can also be effective when treating the following:-
Fear of flying, exam anxiety, public speaking, stress, chronic pain management, depression, body image issues, etc.
Who can provide VR?
VR therapy should only be provided by an appropriately qualified psychologist who has the skills to administer this component as part of a cognitive behavioural intervention. It is not designed for public use and is a specialist tool.
If you are interested in learning more, please do get in touch with lighthouse who will be happy to tell you more.