If you want to conquer your fears, you must confront them. That’s the concept behind many treatments for people with phobias. Psychotherapists will introduce them to settings that might trigger their reaction, and slowly increase the exposure as the patient becomes accustomed to the situations. The problem is that this can be difficult to accomplish for some settings, such as as flying on a jetliner for hours. There’s no way to get off once it starts. And just talking about it just isn’t the same as being there.
Psious has created a wearable technology solution. Based on a pair of wireless virtual-reality goggles, the company has developed scenarios for patients to experience, covering everything from a fear of heights, to claustrophobia, to a fear of hypodermic needles. The scenes include surround sound to increase the immersion effect, and the therapist can adjust the scene to match the individual patient’s needs. For example, if the patient has become comfortable with sitting in the gate lounge at an airport while waiting to board a plane, the therapist can add a thunderstorm outside the terminal to ratchet up the anxiety level.
This is a great use of technology that many think of as useful only for gaming. It provides a controlled and safe environment for patients to experience the type of situations that can trigger their fearful response. The therapist can monitor exactly what the patient is seeing, and each session generates a detailed report that helps the therapist and patient track progress in the treatment.