Virtual Reality for mental health

Welcome to our website! The VR mental health lab is a research team within the University Center Psychiatry (UCP) in Groningen. The VR mental health lab has been conducting research into applications of Virtual Reality in psychiatry for several years. With this website we want to highlight the power of virtual reality. On this website current news can be found, as well as information about current research and published research. In addition, we offer training courses for care providers to apply Virtual Reality in practice.

Virtual reality for pschychiatry

Virtual Reality (VR) is a way to enter other worlds. A computer generates an environment that you can experience in 3D with a head mounted display. The virtual environment can be built with a computer or filmed with a special camera. The environment is everywhere, you are immersed in a virtual world. It feels like you are there, just real.

More than a game

At the Department of Psychiatry of the University Medical Center Groningen we develop and test VR interventions. We have VR treatments for: paranoia, social anxiety, agoraphobia, reactive aggression, social cognition, and stress management. People who are too anxious to go shopping can practice in our virtual supermarket until their distress is gone. Others get paranoid if people in the street are looking at them. They can reduce their paranoia by doing exercises in virtual streets. Aggression is difficult to control, but management of aggression and anger can be improved by virtual role-plays of provocative social situations.

Why not in the real world?

The real world is uncontrollable. Situations that you want to practice may not occur when you need them, or are unexpectedly too difficult. In VR, we can plan everything. You know exactly what can happen and what situation you will save for next time. And you can practice similar situations over and over again. Another advantage is that there is a trainer next to you, who helps to select the right exercises and can give feedback.

What VR treatments are there?

Anxiety disorders can be treated with VR, including phobias, social anxiety, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. At the Department of Psychiatry we’re developing and testing new treatments. We have treatments for: psychosis, social anxiety, agoraphobia, aggression, social cognition and reducing stress.

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First Findings On DiSCoVR Published

First findings on DiSCoVR published

This summer, the first official findings on DiSCoVR were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research: Mental Health. This article is…


VRAPT – agression

In VRAPT, Virtual Reality aggression prevention training, forensic inpatients can practice with provocative scenarios in a three-dimensional virtual environment. A large part of the training consists of virtual role-playing.

TOPIC-VR – exposure

Seventy percent of people with psychosis suffer from paranoid delusions. They often see signs that others wish to harm them. They know for sure that they are in danger, when in reality they are not.

DiSCoVR – social interaction

DiSCoVR is aimed at improving social cognition. By better understanding others, participants learn to evaluate social situation and learn useful ways to handle social interactions.

VRelax – relaxation

VRelax is used to support the treatment of psychological problems. It’s a tool for the prevention and self-management of stress.