Virtual Reality for mental health

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.

Training in VR

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.

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VRAPT – agression prevention

With VRAPT, Virtual Reality agression prevention training, forensic inpatients can practice with provocing scenario’s in a virtual environment. A large part of the training exists of virtual roleplaying.

VR-CBT – improving social participation

With VR-CBT we aim to increase social participantion and reducing paranoid ideation in patients with a psychotic disorder and social anxiety.

DiSCoVR – social cognition

DiSCoVR is an intervention which aims to improve social cognition in people with psychosis and/or autism. The training consists of an emotion recognition game, and various types of virtual roleplaying.

VRelax – relaxation

VRelax is used as support in the treatment of psychological problems and as a tool for prevention and self-management of stress-related complaints.

VR in mental health 02-01-18-01