Journal Publications

1996-1999

99 May Wiederhold, B.K. & Wiederhold, M.D., “How Real-Time Technology Can Improve the Quality of Life”.
1999 Wiederhold B.K. & Wiederhold, M.D., “Clinical Observations During Virtual Reality Therapy for Specific Phobias”, CyberPsychology & Behavior, Vol. 2, No. 2
1998 Wiederhold, B.K. & Wiederhold, M.D., “The Science of Internet Behavior”, CyberPsychology & Behavior, Vol. 1, No. 4
98 Jan. 31 Wiederhold, B.K. “Overview of the Virtual Reality and Mental Health Symposium”, CyberPsychology & Behavior, Vol. 1, No. 2
1998 Wiederhold, B.K., Gevirtz, R., & Wiederhold, M.D., “Fear of Flying: A Case Report Using Virtual Reality Therapy with Physiological Monitoring”, CyberPsychology & Behavior, Vol. 1, No. 2
1998 Wiederhold, B.K., Davis, R., & Wiederhold, M.D., “The Effects of Immersiveness on Physiology”, Virtual Environments in Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience
1998 Wiederhold, M.D., “Editorial”, CyberPsychology & Behavior, Vol. 1, No. 1
1998 Wiederhold, M.D., “Editorial: Progress in CyberPsychology”, CyberPsychology & Behavior, Vol. 1, No. 2
1998 Wiederhold, B.K. & Wiederhold, M.D., “A Review of Virtual Reality as a Psychotherapeutic Tool”, CyberPsychology & Behavior, Vol. 1, No. 1
96 March/Apr. Wiederhold, B.K. & Wiederhold, M.D., “From Virtual Worlds to the Therapist’s Office”, IEEE Engineering In Medicine and Biology

ARCTT Publications

2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008

The Virtual News, Volume 1(1)

2001

Happy Holidays! We hope 2000 has been a year of good health and happiness for you and your family. We would like to thank all of you for your past support of the Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC), and let you know about some of our news for 2000.

VRMC has expanded since its formation in August 1997, and now includes virtual reality (VR) exposure therapy for the treatment of fear of flying, fear of driving, fear of heights, claustrophobia, agoraphobia and panic, social phobia, and fear of public speaking. The VR treatment is used in conjunction with traditional cognitive-behavioral techniques, including breathing retraining with visual feedback of the respiration, heart rate, sweat gland activity, and skin temperature. Our new flying environment which many of you may not have seen includes other passengers in the airplane and also deals with the anticipatory anxiety many people feel when packing to go on a trip or sitting at the airport waiting for a flight.

VRMC also continues to offer therapy for physiological disorders such as migraine headache, tension headache, urinary incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in addition to offering general stress management techniques. We are also available for testing and assessment.

VRMC is now a beta test site for VR equipment developed in Milan, Italy; Valencia, Spain; and Seoul, Korea. In addition, we have active student exchange programs with the Catholic University in Milan, Jaume I University in Spain, and Hanyang University in Korea.

In the past three years, VRMC therapists have performed over 1,000 sessions in VR environments and have trained 21 graduate students who are completing their doctoral degrees in psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology – San Diego, which is accredited by the American Psychological Association. Since we are a training center as well as a clinical research and service center, we are proud to offer services based on income level, with a sliding fee scale. Some insurance policies may also cover our services, which are individual psychotherapy and billed under the “mental health” benefit portion of many insurances.

We look forward to being of service to those who need us in the coming year, and hope to continue to expand the services we offer to you.

Sincerely,


Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold, M.D., Ph.D., FACP
Executive Director Medical Director

Donations to support research and training opportunities combining technology and psychology
may be made to our 501c3 nonprofit organization—the Interactive Media Institute.
Donations are tax deductible, and a letter will be provided for tax purposes.

The Virtual News, Volume 1(2)

2001

With the coming of Spring, the Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC) will be expanding the treatment options we offer to the San Diego community. I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight our new treatment groups, which will be coordinated by Dr. James L. Spira, Director of our Health Psychology Program. Dr. Spira, Ph.D., MPH, ABPP joined our group last April. Dr. Spira’s experience includes providing services as head of the Health Psychology Division at Balboa Naval Hospital, serving as head of the Health Psychology Clinic at both Duke University and Stanford University, and teaching meditation and Tai Chi throughout the world. In addition to using virtual reality and physiological feedback to treat patients with anxiety disorders, panic, and phobias; Dr. Spira is a certified clinical hypnotherapist and is know internationally for his treatment groups for anxiety and stress-related disorders including headache (both migraine and tension), irritable bowel syndrome, and general stress management. To find out more about Dr. Spira’s upcoming groups, please call 858-642-0267 or visit our website at www.vrphobia.com.

A new book offering advice on ways to cope more effectively with anxiety entitled: Panic and Anxiety Disorder: 121 Tips, Real-life Advice, Resources & More, has just been released. It can be ordered from its author, Linda Manassee Buell at Linda@simplifylife.com.

Our two newest virtual reality exposure environments are a small conference room audience and a large group audience for treating public speaking fears. The virtual environments include digitized video that has been incorporated into the environment, allowing for a more realistic experience. An actual PowerPoint presentation can also be imported into the virtual world so that an individual can practice his or her own presentation prior to a meeting or conference. The audience responses can be varied; from an attentive audience to a bored or hostile audience; with other variations such as “cell phones ringing” and “audience members asking questions” being available also.

Our current virtual reality exposure treatments include fear of flying, fear of driving, fear of heights, claustrophobia, agoraphobia and panic, social phobia, and fear of public speaking. These treatments are combined with traditional cognitive-behavioral techniques, including breathing retraining with visual feedback of respiration, heart rate, sweat gland activity, and skin temperature. We also continue to offer treatment for physiological disorders including migraine and tension headache, vestibular disorders, and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as general stress management techniques.

We look forward to serving your individual and group therapy needs. Our services are offered on a sliding fee scale, based on income level. Some insurance policies may also cover our individual therapy services, which are billed as “individual psychotherapy” under the “mental health” benefits portion of many insurances.


Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold, M.D., Ph.D., FACP
Executive Director Medical Director

Donations to support research and training opportunities combining technology and psychology may be made to our 501c3 nonprofit organization—the Interactive Media Institute.
Donations are tax deductible, and a letter will be provided for tax purposes.

The Virtual News, Volume 1(3)

2001

Hello friends and colleagues of the Center for Advanced Multimedia Psychotherapy (CAMP) and The Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC)! We hope this letter finds you having a good summer. We would like to thank all of your for your past support and tell you about some of the exciting changes that we have made since the spring.

The Center continues to provide virtual reality (VR) exposure therapy for the treatment of fear of flying, fear of driving, fear of heights, fear of public speaking, social phobia, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, panic, anxiety and stress. The virtual reality treatment is used in conjunction with traditional cognitive-behavioral techniques, including breathing retraining with visual feedback of respiration, heart rate, sweat gland, activity, and skin temperature. In addition, we continue to offer therapy for physiological disorders such as migraine headache, tension headache, urinary incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

In July, we started a “Controlling Stress and Anxiety” group. The group meets on Wednesdays from 6-7pm, and includes learning and practicing relaxation techniques, meditation, and self-hypnosis for an overall healthier lifestyle. The group facilitator is psychologist and certified hypnotherapist Dr. Jim Spira, who has over 20 years of experience working with stress and anxiety disorders. If you would like more information about the group, or have an idea for another group that you would like to see implemented at the Center, please contact our receptionist staff at (858) 457-1464. The “Controlling Stress and Anxiety” group will be offered again in September and October. We are taking reservations for these groups now.

Our treatment program for fear of flying now includes the exposure options of taking a guided tour through the San Diego airport and airport control tower, as well as a tour of a stationary airplane. The pictures below were taken during a recent tour in which a group of people working on overcoming their fear of flying had an opportunity to practice the skills they have learned at the Center on a stationary airplane before taking an actual flight*. We are also planning to include a graduationi flight as part of our treatment.

If you would like to participate in our next stationary airplane tour, please e-mail Linda Manassee Buell (Linda@simplifylife.com). If you would like to take a guided tour of the San Diego International Airport or airport control tower, please contact Leslie Marples at (619) 686-8014 or visit www.portofsandiego.org for the tour schedule.

As we are a training center as well as a clinical research and service center, we are proud to offer services based on income level, with a sliding fee scale. Some insurance policies may also cover our services, which are individual psychotherapy and billed under the “mental health” benefit portion of many insurances. We continue to work on updating and improving our website and welcome any comments or suggestions you may have for making it more informative.

We look forward to being of service to those who need us in the future, and hope to continue to expand the services we offer to you

Sincerely,


Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA
Executive Director

Donations to support research and training opportunities combining technology and psychology may be made to our 501c3 nonprofit organization—the Interactive Media Institute.
Donations are tax deductible, and a letter will be provided for tax purposes.

The Virtual News, Volume 1(4)

2001

Happy Holidays! As we come to the close of 2001, it is a time to stop and give thanks for the gifts that are ours—health, family, and friends. At The Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC), 2001 was our new beginning, a time of expansion of the services we offer to the community and the realization of a dream. Formerly the Center for Advanced Multimedia Psychotherapy (CAMP), we have grown to become the VRMC to more accurately embody the broad array of mental health and behavioral medicine services we now offer. In addition to our phobia, panic, and anxiety disorder treatments utilizing virtual reality exposure therapy and physiological monitoring and feedback, we now have on staff a clinical psychologist who specializes in functional disorders such as fibromyalgia, migraine and tension headache, irritable bowel syndrome, and insomnia. Dr. Jim Spira offers group and individual therapy, as well as clinical hypnotherapy, to deal with stress and anxiety.

A clinical psychologist who specializes in child and family therapy and assessments has also recently joined our staff. Dr. Norm Severe utilizes advanced technologies as an adjunct to traditional child therapy. VRMC has grown from one room with one therapist (me!) in August 1997 to now having a staff of twenty-five and a twenty-room clinic. We have conducted over 3,000 virtual reality sessions and have published numerous scientific papers on our treatments. In addition, our staff has presented at scientific conferences in three different countries, as well as being in popular press articles and on international, national, and local television programs discussing our work. It is important for us to stay current with the latest treatment protocols and technologies, as VRMC is dedicated to research, service, and training. In addition to our clinical services, we plan to begin controlled trials on panic with agoraphobia as part of a multi-center study with investigators in Korea, Italy, and Canada.

We received two grants this year. The first is to measure how physiology (heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, perspiration rate, and other physical parameters) changes during baseline, relaxed, and stressful conditions. The second is to understand what changes occur in a person’s cognitive state after taking over-the-counter antihistamines. We are in the planning stages of research with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Scripps Clinic, La Jolla to use virtual reality as a distraction technique during wound care in burn victims (UCSD) and during chemotherapy treatments (Scripps Clinic). We hope these studies will be underway in the Spring of 2002.

We continue our dedication to training those receiving their Master’s and Doctorate degrees in clinical psychology, health psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, biomedical engineering, and computer science. Although VRMC is a privately-owned professional medical corporation, we maintain active exchange programs with Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea; the Catholic University in Milan, Italy; Jaume I University in Valencia, Spain; and also offer training to doctoral students attending UCSD, San Diego State University (SDSU), and Alliant International University (AIU), San Diego. With the opening of our Santa Monica office in 2002, we will also be offering training to students from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

VRMC now has a non-profit affiliate for your convenience should you desire to donate to our research and training programs. The Interactive Media Institute (IMI) is a woman-owned 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Many of our research programs will be conducted under IMI. Funds donated to IMI are tax-deductible, and a letter can be provided to you for tax purposes. If you need more information on donating, please feel free to contact me at bwiederhold@alliant.edu or (858) 623-2777, ext. 415. A special thank you to Linda Manassee Buell for her recent donation of a portion of her book sales, Panic and Anxiety Disorder: 121 Tips, Real-life Advice, Resources & More, to fund research on panic and agoraphobia. (Her book may be purchased at Amazon.com or www.SimplifyLife.com)

Many former clients of CAMP and VRMC have expressed a desire to have an on-going support group. They say that knowing there are others who truly understand what their daily struggles are has been very beneficial to them. If you or someone you know are interested in a support group, please contact my front office staff at (858) 642-0267 or e-mail me at bwiederhold@alliant.edu and let us know what days/times each week would be best for you. The clinic is open from 9:30-6 Monday-Friday and 9-4 on Saturday. We want to encourage everyone to become active participants in their own recovery and continued wellness.

I appreciate those of you who call or e-mail periodically to let us know how you are doing. Also, a special thanks to those of you who have agreed to give interviews for news stories or print media stories. I would like to offer everyone the opportunity to send in any personal quotes you might like to have featured on our website or in future clinic brochures. We can use your full name or only your initials should you wish to maintain your anonymity. Only by vocalizing our treatment successes can we let others know that they do not have to suffer in silence; help is available.

From all of us at VRMC, we wish you health, happiness, and success in the coming year. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to serve you over the past year, and please let us know how we can best serve your future needs.

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Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold, M.D., Ph.D., FACP Ruth Kogen
Executive Director Medical Director Research Editor

Donations to support research and training opportunities combining technology and psychology may be made to our 501c3 nonprofit organization—the Interactive Media Institute.
Donations are tax deductible, and a letter will be provided for tax purposes.

The Virtual News, Volume 2(1)

2002

Why Am I So Anxious?

Every human feels anxiety on occasion; it is a part of life. All of us know what it is like to feel worry, nervousness, fear, and concern. We feel nervous when we have to give a speech, go for a job interview, or walk into our boss’s office for the annual performance appraisal. We know it’s normal to feel a surge of fear when we unexpectedly see a photo of a snake or look down from the top of a tall building. Most of us manage these kinds of anxious feelings fairly well and are able to carry on with our lives without much difficulty. These feelings don’t disrupt our lives.

But millions of people (an estimated 15% of the population) suffer from devastating and constant anxiety that severely affects their lives, sometimes resulting in living in highly restricted ways. These people experience panic attacks, phobias, extreme shyness, obsessive thoughts, and compulsive behaviors. The feeling of anxiety is a constant and dominating force that disrupts their lives. Some become prisoners in their own homes, unable to leave to work, drive, or visit the grocery store. For these people, anxiety is much more than just an occasional wave of apprehension.

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Types of Anxiety Disorders

An anxiety disorder affects a person’s behavior, thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. The most common anxiety disorders include the following:

Social anxiety or social phobia is a fear of being around other people. People who suffer from this disorder always feel self-conscious around others. They have the feeling that everyone is watching them and staring at them, being critical in some way. Because the anxiety is so painful, they learn to stay away from social situations and avoid other people. Some eventually need to be alone at all times, in a room with the door closed. The feeling is pervasive and constant and even happens with people they know.

People who have social anxiety know that their thoughts and fears are not rational. They are aware that others are not actually judging or evaluating them at every moment. But this knowledge does not make the feelings disappear.

Panic disorder is a condition where a person has panic attacks without warning. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, about 5% of the adult American population suffers from panic attacks. Some experts say that this number is actually higher, since many people experience panic attacks but never receive treatment.

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Common symptoms of panic include:

    • Racing or pounding heart
    • Trembling
    • Sweaty palms
    • Feelings of terror
    • Chest pains or heaviness in the chest
    • Dizziness and lightheadedness
    • Fear of dying
    • Fear of going crazy
    • Fear of losing control
    • Feeling unable to catch one’s breath
    • Tingling in the hands, feet, legs, or arms

A panic attack typically lasts several minutes and is extremely upsetting and frightening. In some cases, panic attacks last longer than a few minutes or strike several times in a short time period.

A panic attack is often followed by feelings of depression and helplessness. Most people who have experienced panic say that the greatest fear is that the panic attack will happen again.

Many times, the person who has a panic attack doesn’t know what caused it. It seems to have come “out of the blue.” At other times, people report that they were feeling extreme stress or had encountered difficult times and weren’t surprised that they had a panic attack.

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Generalized anxiety disorder is quite common, affecting an estimated 3 to 4% of the population. This disorder fills a person’s life with worry, anxiety, and fear. People who have this disorder are always thinking and dwelling on the “what ifs” of every situation. It feels like there is no way out of the vicious cycle of anxiety and worry. The person often becomes depressed about life and their inability to stop worrying.

People who have generalized anxiety usually do not avoid situations, and they don’t generally have panic attacks. They can become incapacitated by an inability to shut the mind off, and are overcome with feelings of worry, dread, fatigue, and a loss of interest in life. The person usually realizes these feelings are irrational, but the feelings are also very real. The person’s mood can change from day to day, or even hour to hour. Feelings of anxiety and mood swings become a pattern that severely disrupts the quality of life.

People with generalized anxiety disorder often have physical symptoms including headaches, irritability, frustration, trembling, inability to concentrate, and sleep disturbances. They may also have symptoms of social phobia and panic disorder.

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Other types of anxiety disorders include:

Specific Phobia, fearing a specific object or situation.

Agoraphobia, disabling fear that prevents one from leaving home or another safe place.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a system of ritualized behaviors or obsessions that are driven by anxious thoughts.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe anxiety that is triggered by memories of a past traumatic experience.

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Treatment Options

Most people who suffer from anxiety disorders begin to feel better when they receive the proper treatment. It can be difficult to identify the correct treatment, however, because each person’s anxiety is caused by a unique set of factors. It can be frustrating for the client when treatment is not immediately successful or takes longer than hoped for. Some clients feel better after a few weeks or months of treatment, while others may need a year or more. If a person has an anxiety disorder in combination with another disorder (such as alcoholism and depression), treatment is more complicated and takes longer.

While a treatment plan must be specifically designed for each individual, there are a number of standard approaches. Mental health professionals who specialize in treating anxiety most often use a combination of the following treatments. There is no single correct approach.

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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

The client learns how to identify and change unproductive thought patterns by observing his or her feelings and learning to separate realistic from unrealistic thoughts. This treatment also helps the client alter and control unwanted behavior. VRMC continues to provide virtual reality (VR) exposure therapy for the treatment of fear of flying, fear of driving, fear of heights, fear of public speaking, social phobia, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, panic, eating disorders, anxiety and stress. The virtual reality treatment is used in conjunction with traditional cognitive-behavioral techniques, including breathing retraining with visual feedback of respiration, heart rate, sweat gland activity, and skin temperature. In addition, we continue to offer therapy for physiological disorders such as migraine headache, tension headache, irritable bowel syndrome, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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Relaxation Training

Many people with anxiety disorders benefit from self-hypnosis, guided visualization, and biofeedback. Relaxation training is often part of psychotherapy. We currently have a “Controlling Stress and Anxiety” group. The group meets on Saturdays from 9-10 a.m., and includes learning and practicing relaxation techniques, meditation, and self-hypnosis for an overall healthier lifestyle. The group facilitator is psychologist and certified hypnotherapist Dr. Jim Spira, who has over 20 years of experience working with stress and anxiety disorders. If you would like more information about the group please contact our receptionist staff at (858) 642-0267. The next “Controlling Stress and Anxiety” group will begin on Saturday March 2nd. We are taking reservations for these groups now.

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Medication

Antidepressant and antianxiety medications can help restore chemical imbalances that cause symptoms of anxiety. This is an effective treatment for many people, especially in combination with psychotherapy.

The treatment for an anxiety disorder depends on the severity and length of the problem. The client’s willingness to actively participate in treatment is also an important factor. When a person with panic is motivated to try new behaviors and practice new skills and techniques, he or she can learn to change the way the brain responds to familiar thoughts and feelings that have previously caused anxiety.

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Current Events at VRMC

VRMC would like to welcome Norman D. Severe, Psy.D., the Director of our new Child and Family Program. Dr. Severe is now available to see patients for child and family therapy as well as for psychological testing and assessment. He uses interactive technologies as an integral part of many of his treatment programs.

Dr. Mark Wiederhold, VRMC’s Medical Director serves as Editor-in-Chief of CyberPsychology & Behavior Journal, now in its fifth year of publication and currently indexed in both Medline and PsychLit/PsychInfo (www.liebertpub.com). This peer-reviewed journal explores the impact of the Internet, Multimedia, and Virtual Reality on behavior and society, as well as how these advanced technologies are being used in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of mental health disorders. This journal allows professionals in the field to keep up with results from the latest controlled studies. We recently published the results of a controlled clinical trial using virtual reality exposure therapy for the treatment of patients with fear of flying. The paper has been published in the Emerging Communication Series Vol. 2, Toward CyberPsychology: Mind, Cognition, and Society in the Internet Age, by IOS Press. (www.psicologia.net).

VRMC therapists recently attended and presented their research at the 10th annual Medicine Meets Virtual Reality conference in Newport Beach, California (www.amainc.com). The international conference hosts a two-day mental health and rehabilitation symposium as well as an evening poster reception and hands-on demonstration evening so that the general public can try the newest technologies being used worldwide by clinicians and researchers. The Interactive Media Institute, VRMC’s affiliated non-profit, will host next year’s two day mental health and rehabilitation symposium.

We are opening our 2nd VRMC location in Los Angeles in March 2002. To schedule an appointment please see the contact information below. We look forward to being of service to those who need us in the future, and hope to continue to expand the services we offer to the Southern California community.

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Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold, M.D., Ph.D., FACP Ruth Kogen
Executive Director Medical Director Research Editor

Donations to support research and training opportunities combining technology and psychology may be made to our 501c3 nonprofit organization—the Interactive Media Institute.
Donations are tax deductible, and a letter will be provided for tax purposes.

The Virtual News, Volume 2(2)

2002

Current Events at VRMC

Our second clinic, located in Santa Monica, officially opened on March 11th. VRMC would like to welcome Dr. William H. Rickles, M.D. as Medical Director of the Santa Monica clinic. Dr. Rickles is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, and has practiced psychiatry for 30 years, including incorporating physiological methods into CBT treatment protocols. Dr. Emanuel Maidenberg, Ph.D. will serve as the clinical supervisor for our UCLA psychology interns beginning in September, 2002.

Drs. Mark and Brenda Wiederhold were invited to present their work on Virtual Reality Applications in Medicine at the National Institutes of Health earlier this month. They are working with scientists and clinicians to try to understand other potential applications of VR therapy. In addition, VRMC therapists presented their research at both the California Psychological Association and the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback conferences in March and April. Research conducted at VRMC continues to show additional benefits of adding virtual reality therapy to clinical practice.

The Interactive Media Institute, our affiliated 501c3 non-profit organization, will organize an international conference, entitled: CyberTherapy: Using Interactive Media in the Behavioral, Social, and Neurosciences, January 20-21, 2003 in San Diego, California. Conference information may be found at www.vrphobia.com or at the previous conference organizer’s site: www.amainc.com under the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality link. If you are interested in volunteering to help with any phase of the conference; including organization, continuing education credits, fundraising, brochure development, or working at the actual conference, please e-mail me at bwiederhold@alliant.edu. This year’s conference will feature leading international scientists who will present their latest original research and clinical studies. Our plan is to have future conferences feature presentations by patients whose lives have been helped through mental health, disability, and rehabilitation treatments involving advanced technologies.

We are pleased to announce a new Internet resource center, The Virtual Reality Self-Help Center. This site is being designed primarily for people who wish to become active participants in their own mental health care. The website will offer a wide variety of educational materials, a special self-help e-newsletter, telephone seminars and support groups, books to browse through in a virtual bookstore, and classes by email. Those wishing to be notified when the Virtual Reality Self-help Center website is launched later this summer, please log onto www.vrselfhelp.com.

We will have an exhibit booth at this year’s second annual Women’s Symposium, sponsored by Alvarado Hospital Medical Center. The event will be held on Saturday, July 13th from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Mission Valley Marriott and features the theme, “It’s Your Life, Make the Most of It.” Executive Director of the new Virtual Reality Self-Help Center, Linda Manassee Buell, will be a featured speaker and will share some of her personal experiences, thoughts and ideas about “Putting yourself first and other guilt-free pleasures!” Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling 1-800-400-7003.

One of the goals of this newsletter is to provide up-to-date education for the community on a variety of important topics. If you or a friend would like to be added to our mailing list, please e-mail us at vrphobia@mail.com or call (858) 642-0267.

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When Should You Consult a Mental Health Professional?

Most of us experience times when we need help to deal with problems and issues that cause us emotional distress. When you are having a problem or dilemma that is making you feel overwhelmed, you may benefit from the assistance of an experienced, trained professional. Professional counselors and therapists offer the caring, expert assistance that people need during stressful times.

There are many types of mental health providers to choose from. The most important thing is to select a licensed professional who has the appropriate training and qualifications to help a person with your specific issues. You should also choose someone with whom you can feel comfortable enough to speak freely and openly.

Types of Problems

People seek the assistance of a mental health professional (MHP) for many different reasons. These are some of the most common:

1. You feel nervous, anxious, and worried most of the time.

2. You have panic attacks.

3. You worry all the time and are unable to find the solutions to your problems.

4. You have an eating disorder.

5. You have a hard time setting and reaching goals.

6. You have a hard time concentrating.

7. Your emotional state is affecting your daily life: your sleep, eating habits, job, and relationships.

8. You are having a hard time functioning from day to day. Your emotional state is affecting your performance at work or school.

9. Your behavior is harmful to yourself or to others.

10. You are feeling impatient and angry with someone you are taking care of.

11. You are having problems with your family members or in other important relationships.

12. You or someone you care about has problems with substance abuse or other addictions.

13. You are the victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence.

14. You are having trouble getting over the death of someone you loved.

15. You or someone you love has a serious illness and you are having a hard time with it.

16. You feel lonely and isolated.

17. You are experiencing problems in a sexual relationship.

18. Your family has a lot of conflict and tension.

19. You are experiencing a divorce or marital separation.

20. You are having a hard time coping with change.

21. You often feel afraid, angry, or guilty.

22. Your child is having problems with behavior or school performance.

23. Your family is stressed because someone is ill.

24. You have a hard time talking with your partner, children, parents, family members, friends, or coworkers.

25. You are having problems dealing with your own sexual orientation or the sexual orientation of someone you care about.

26. You are planning to marry, and you have some concerns.

27. You have gotten a divorce and your family needs help adjusting.

28. You are part of a blended family and need help learning to live together.

29. You feel unhappy most of the time.

30. You feel extremely sad and helpless.

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Types of Mental Health Professionals

The most common MHPs in the United States are Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, Social Workers, and Professional Counselors. Each state has its own licensing laws and standards that govern each type of professional. While all licensed MHPs can help most people with problems of living, each group has its own special training in specific areas that makes them more qualified for certain types of issues. In addition, each individual therapist has a unique set of experiences that makes him or her uniquely qualified to work with certain kinds of issues.

Psychologists generally have a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree in psychology from an accredited school. They must complete a rigorous internship period and pass a state licensing exam. In addition to their undergraduate college degree, most psychologists spend five to seven years in education and training. They study scientific methods and the science of human behavior, building skills for working with people who have real life problems.

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) generally have a master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or a related subject from an accredited school. In most states, they must complete a supervised internship period and pass a state licensing exam. Marriage and family therapists are trained to work with people, focusing on how they relate to others. While they often work with an individual client, the focus of treatment is the set of relationships that surround the client and how those relationships impact the client. MFTs are trained in psychotherapy and family systems. They are licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples, and family systems. They work in a variety of settings with individuals, couples, families, children and adolescents, providing support and a fresh viewpoint as people struggle with life’s challenges.

Social Workers have a BSW or MSW from an accredited school. They must have completed an MSW and a supervised internship before passing a state licensing exam. (Each state has its own licensing regulations.) The social work profession focuses on individual happiness and well-being in a social context. It is also concerned with the well-being of the society that surrounds the individual. Social workers are trained to pay attention to the environmental forces that may contribute to the individual’s life problems.

Licensed Counselors have a master’s degree in psychology or a related subject from an accredited school. In most states, they must complete a supervised internship period and pass a state licensing exam.

Psychiatrists are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. It takes many years of education and training to become a psychiatrist: He or she must graduate from college and then medical school, and go on to complete four years of residency training in the field of psychiatry. (Many psychiatrists undergo additional training so that they can further specialize in such areas as child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, psychopharmacology, and/or psychoanalysis.)

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Referral to Other Health ProfessionalsWhen it is in the best interest of the patient or outside the scope of the MHP’s license, therapists collaborate with and refer to other health professionals, such as physicians or psychiatrists in the case of prescribing medication.

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ConfidentialityEach group of MHPs has strict ethical guidelines governing privacy and confidentiality. Clients of licensed MHPs can expect that discussions will be kept confidential, except as otherwise required or permitted by law. Examples of times when confidentiality must be broken are when child abuse has occurred or where the client threatens violence against another person. When you are looking for a mental health professional to help you address your issues, it is very important to ask about a therapist’s qualifications to treat your specific concerns.

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Visit these web sites to learn more:

Virtual Reality Medical Center

Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy

Anxiety Disorders Association of America

American Psychological Association

Virtual Reality Self-Help Center

Please pass this newsletter along to a friend. To request additional copies, see the contact info:


Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold, M.D., Ph.D., FACP Ruth Kogen
Executive Director Medical Director Research Editor

Donations to support research and training opportunities combining technology and psychology may be made to our 501c3 nonprofit organization—the Interactive Media Institute.
Donations are tax deductible, and a letter will be provided for tax purposes.

The Virtual News, Volume 2(3)

2002

Current Events at VRMC

VRMC is participating in a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funded study to train high school students using VR driving simulators. The CDC has recognized that teenage driving accidents are a public health concern and remain the #1 cause of death among those under 18. The study will track driving behavior for two years following completion of training to determine if VR lowers accident rates, DUIs, and traffic-related fatalities.

The Interactive Media Institute, VRMC’s affiliated 501c3 non-profit, has received funding from both the European Union and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Drug Abuse for the CyberTherapy 2003 Conference to be held in January 2003. The conference will focus on interactive technologies in the behavioral, social, and neurosciences. Simulations, virtual reality, videoconferencing, Internet, and personal robotics are now being used by professionals in mental health, assistive technologies, and rehabilitation. The IMI plans to offer other conferences during the year, and is interested in receiving additional funding.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Lawrence Nelson, a former patient at the San Diego clinic, who is shown in the photograph at the right. Larry has composed a “Survival Checklist” for those patients visiting VRMC and who are beginning the condensed treatment exposure protocol. The Survival Checklist will be featured on the VRMC website, www.vrphobia.com soon and will be available to help others interested in this treatment.

As part of our mission to continue public education, VRMC was featured on Animal Planet this August. The story featured a demonstration of a patient successfully completing treatment for fear of spiders.

The Santa Monica clinic continues to expand, and we will be offering additional treatment modalities next month including treatment for driving difficulties. We are in current negotiations to open our 3rd clinic, in the San Francisco area, later this year.

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Anxiety Disorders Throughout The Lifetime

Anxiety is a natural emotion experienced by human beings that is necessary to our survival. A normal anxious response alerts the body to danger, causing one to avoid harm. However, people who suffer from anxiety disorders may feel excessively frightened, distressed and panicked during everyday tasks and situations. These feelings can begin to interfere with relationships, careers and overall satisfaction with life.

Anxiety disorders affect approximately 10% of individuals, making them the most common mental illness. The good news is that they are among the most successfully treated of mental disorders. It is believed that gender, temperament, and family history are all factors that influence the likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder. Females have a higher rate of diagnosis, as do those with a family member who suffers from an anxiety disorder. Some feel that temperament and personality make one susceptible. Currently, the majority of scientists believe that all of these aspects in combination must be considered.

Research on anxiety disorders and treatment has typically been performed on young to middle-aged adults. These are the easiest subjects to include in clinical trials, as they are able to give their own consent, unlike children, and lack the physical ailments and limitations of older patients. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the prevalence of anxiety disorders found in children and the elderly. This issue of the newsletter is dedicated to providing information on anxiety disorders in both those early in life, and those in their golden years.

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With Wisdom Comes…Anxiety?

While it was previously thought that the incidence of anxiety disorders declined with age, it has recently been found that anxiety and aging are not correlated. Anxiety is as prevalent in the older population as in the young; however the manifestations of these disorders are different.


Risk Factors
The elderly may become vulnerable to anxiety disorders due to stresses unique to their age group. The aging process can bring chronic physical problems, loss of autonomy, and significant emotional pain that inflicts great tension. This added strain can easily lead to anxiety and fear for one’s well being.

As in the general population, being a woman and having less formal education leads to a higher risk for anxiety disorders. In addition, depression often accompanies these disorders. Research has shown that nearly half of all who suffer from depression meet the criteria for anxiety, and ¼ of those diagnosed with anxiety disorders also experience depression. Some hypothesize that many older adults dealing with an anxiety disorder have a history of the disorder that remained undiagnosed in earlier years.

Spotting a Possible ProblemAnxiety disorders tend to present differently in the elderly than in the general population. They are more likely to complain about physical symptoms than psychological problems. This can make distinguishing a medical condition from an anxiety disorder more complicated. Those with Alzheimer’s or adult-onset dementia may provide a further obstacle in the way of accurately diagnosing anxiety disorders. In fact, much of the agitation that was previously considered part of Alzheimer’s may in reality be a sign of an anxiety disorder. It is important that any older patient with symptoms of depression or medically unexplained physical symptoms be evaluated for an anxiety disorder. Diagnosis should not rely solely on what patients say, but also on how they behave.


Treatment Options
It is suggested that older individuals suffering from the symptoms of an anxiety disorder begin treatment with their primary care physician who they may already have an established relationship with, and then seek his/her advice on a possible mental health referral. Treatment may involve a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication. CBT can include relaxation, replacing anxiety-producing thoughts and exposure therapy (possibly in Virtual Reality). In the elderly, it has been found that anti-depressants may be more effective than anti-anxiety medications because they are less likely to cause over-sedation and physical dependence. The specific combination recommended for treatment depends on discussion between the patient, their family, and their physician.

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Carefree Youth?

It is estimated that 5-20% of all children have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, indicating that like the adult population, it is the most common mental illness. The anxiety suffered can involve a fear of separation, natural disaster, being judged in social situations, or many other things. Studies have suggested that teens with anxiety disorders are at risk for developing major depression or substance abuse, while anxiety disorders in children can lead to reduced school attendance, low self-esteem, deficient social skills, and adjustment difficulty.

The Most Common Anxiety Disorders in YouthThere are four Anxiety Disorders that are most common in children. The first is Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD), which includes an extreme fear of being away from home or from their primary caretakers. Approximately 4% of children have SAD. A second Anxiety Disorder is Social Phobia (SOC). Often described as “painfully shy” a child with SOC has a nagging fear of being negatively judged by others. A common disorder in both adults and children is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which involves excessive uncontrollable worry even when there is no realistic cause. Physiological symptoms to look for include, disturbance of sleep pattern, difficulty concentrating, muscle aches or tension and irritability. Panic Disorder with or without Agoraphobia (PD) can be diagnosed through its classic panic attack symptoms such as shortness of breath and terror in certain situations. All of these Anxiety Disorders have a high incidence of co-morbidity with other disorders. It is known that up to ¾ of children with an anxiety disorder also suffer from another anxiety disorder or depression.

When to be ConcernedIt is important to observe the child’s behavior closely. While normal anxiety only occurs a small proportion of the time, symptoms of an anxiety disorder may be present for the majority of every day. These symptoms interfere with the child’s daily activities and productivity. Notice if the child complains about these symptoms and if they are causing the child distress. In addition, young people who have an anxiety disorder may try to control situations that make them anxious or may avoid them altogether.

TreatmentsTreatments for children are similar to those for adults. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has a long-lasting effect that helps prevent relapse. It can take several months to take effect, and should involve the family members of the sufferer. CBT is often used in combination with medication in order to produce a more rapid effect. The effects of medication alone however, cease as soon as the patient stops treatment.

How Parents Can HelpIf a parent feels something is wrong with their child, it is important to push to get help. Often, a general physician may not be the best person to treat an anxiety disorder. Make sure you go into the doctor with a record of your child’s behavior. If necessary, ask for a referral to a mental health professional.

There are many things one can do to help a child cope with an anxiety disorder as they undergo treatment. Let them know that you are open to hearing about their feelings and fears. Be honest about reality, but help them put uncomfortable situations in perspective. Never make fun or scold a child for their symptoms. Help bolster their self-esteem by reminding them of something brave they have done in the past. Most importantly, be sure the child feels supported from all directions, at home and at school.

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One Size Does Not Fit All

A recent study published in Science this July discussed the relation of anxiety to DNA. In the study, scientists placed volunteers inside an MRI machine while showing them faces of frightened or angry people on VR goggles. During a brain scan, it was noted that these images increased the activity in the subjects’ amygdalas, the almond-shaped area in the brain that controls emotion. A certain gene that varies among the individuals produces a protein that limits stimulation of the nervous system. Those who had the “long” version of this cell had much less activity in the amygdalas than their counterparts with the “short” version, and therefore remained calmer. Thus a possible correlation can be drawn between this gene and anxiety.

Though this study is significant in the area of anxiety’s relationship to DNA, researchers caution that these findings are not conclusive. Scientists stress that a combination of factors disposes one to anxiety. Whatever possible causes for anxiety disorders can be hypothesized, this study will certainly not be the last that focuses on DNA’s connection to anxiety and other mental disorders.

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Resources for this Issue:

www.adaa.org

www.nami.org

www.usnews.com

Please pass this newsletter along to a friend. To request additional copies, see the contact info:


Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold, M.D., Ph.D., FACP Ruth Kogen
Executive Director Medical Director Research Editor

Donations to support research and training opportunities combining technology and psychology may be made to our 501c3 nonprofit organization—the Interactive Media Institute.
Donations are tax deductible, and a letter will be provided for tax purposes.

The Virtual News, Volume 3(1)

2003

Current Events at VRMC

In November of 2003, the Virtual Reality Medical Center opened its third clinic in Palo Alto. This new clinic offers virtual reality treatment for fear of flying, public speaking, heights, and thunderstorms to those living in the Bay Area. In addition to the above treatments, the Santa Monica Clinic is now offering treatments for fear of driving, panic and agoraphobia, as well as posttraumatic stress disorder following motor vehicle accidents.

VRMC has been awarded several grants over the past few months. Our expertise in therapy is now being extended to research and development into how virtual reality and simulations can be used to enhance learning and training. One of these grants will fund research that examines how to maximize learning in virtual reality environments. Another will go towards supporting a partnership with the UCSD Burn Center in order to use virtual reality with children as they undergo wound care. Because changing dressings and examining wounds is such a painful process for all burn patients, it is hoped that the use of virtual reality will act as a distraction from pain for these children. The Centers for Disease Control grant that was awarded to the Virtual Reality Medical Center last summer is going well, with over 75 high school students being trained using virtual reality driving simulators by VRMC staff.

VRMC staff have been very busy speaking about virtual reality therapy for anxiety disorders at various conferences. Presentations included “VR Therapy” at the Scripps Research Institute, and “New Techniques in VR Therapy” at the Association for Advancement of Behavioral Therapy annual conference. Brenda was an invited speaker at the 11th annual Medicine Meets Virtual Reality Conference in Newport Beach in January, and VRMC staff will attend the Anxiety Disorders Association of America international conference in March in Toronto where current research results will be presented.

Dr. Brenda Wiederhold wrote a guest editorial for the September 2002 issue of IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine Journal. In addition, she co-authored two articles in that issue, “The Treatment of Fear of Flying: A Controlled Study of Imaginal and Virtual Reality Graded Exposure Therapy” and “The Development of Virtual Reality Therapy System for the Treatment of Acrophobia and Therapeutic Case.”

Our biggest news is the successful completion of the 1st international conference, CyberTherapy 2003. The Interactive Media Institute, VRMC’s affiliated 501c3 non-profit organization, organized the CyberTherapy 2003 conference on January 19-21 of this year in Rancho Santa Fe. Due to the incredible response to the Call for Papers, the original conference duration of two days had to be extended to three days. Presentation topics included the use of virtual reality for pain distraction, rehabilitation, phobia and anxiety disorder treatment, treatment for autistic spectrum disorders and more. Exhibitors also presented new virtual technology and software. Abstracts may be viewed at www.vrphobia.com under the CyberTherapy link.

An entire half-day of the conference was dedicated to presenting research about the efficacy of virtual reality therapy in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Disorders discussed during this session included Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Flying, Heights, Driving Phobia, Public Speaking, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder due to a Motor Vehicle Accident, Agoraphobia, and Panic Disorder. All presenters offered promising clinical and research results in this regard.

Another issue addressed by several presenters was the use of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging with virtual reality. By developing VR technology that is compatible with fMRI tools, researchers are able to elucidate brain changes that occur during virtual reality therapy. In doing this, scientists hope to gather quantitative data about the physical effects of virtual reality therapy. Other presenters spoke about clinical trials that included the use of objective physiological measurements in order to further this goal.

The conference included presenters and attendees from thirteen different countries, enabling discussion and information exchange to take place among professionals from around the globe. We would like to extend our sincere gratitude and congratulations to all who made the conference a success, including this year’s sponsors—DARPA, Institute for Interventional Informatics, Istituto Auxologico Italiano, MindTel, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Naval Research Lab. Next year’s conference will be held in San Diego in January 2004.

What is stress, and why is it ruining my life?

According to the American Institute of Stress, “the stress response of the body is somewhat like an airplane readying for take-off. Virtually all systems (e.g., the heart and blood vessels, the immune system, the lungs, the digestive system, the sensory organs, and brain) are modified to meet the perceived danger.”

Responses to Stress

A person’s response to stress encompasses both physiological and psychological components. It is important to remember that each person responds to stress in a unique manner. Stress can affect a person’s health in surprising ways. Significant and constant stress has been found to have significant affects on weight, the immune system, the digestive system, pain, sex and reproduction, skin conditions, sleep, risk of heart disease and stroke, and emotional disorders.

For example, one response to stress is production of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol increases appetite and causes excess calories to be stored as fat around the abdomen, increasing weight and risk for heart disease and diabetes. Cortisol also suppresses the immune system, causing one to be vulnerable to illness. The muscle tension associated with stress can lead to headaches, body pain, insomnia and sexual dysfunction. In addition, the nerve endings in the skin make it especially vulnerable to stress-related conditions (e.g. acne, eczema, hives, etc).

In spite of this, stress is not always a bad thing. Though stress and anxiety can produce harmful effects, a minimum balance of stress is necessary for us to grow emotionally. A low level of anxiety before an exam or oral presentation helps the brain to be alert and responsive, improving performance. It is when this low level rises to an extreme that physiological or psychological problems may result.

Stress Myths

1. Stress only affects those that live successful, high-pressure lives.
Many individuals experience the constant stress of worry, regardless of high-pressure situations. One may worry about leading an unfulfilled life, or not being where they would like to be.

2. One can always tell if they are under stress.
Often people become so accustomed to stress that they are not aware of it. Many suffer the debilitating effects of stress even though they do not notice or feel the tension. Stress can change the way that people treat others and can cause physical damage even without feelings of anxiety.

3. Stress is caused by the events that we experience.
Events are perceived in as many different ways as there are people who experience them. It is one’s perspective on a situation, not the incident itself, which causes the emotional reaction.

4. Emotions cannot be controlled.
Changing behaviors or thoughts can result in a change in emotions. Creating a new view of a situation can make it less stressful.

5. The only way to reduce stress is to change your surroundings or take medication.
Altering one’s outlook on life is an effective way of reducing stress. More helpful tools for stress management are provided on the next page.

What can you do?

There are many tools available for controlling stress. Some address the physical effects of stress and some the psychological. Using a combination of these methods can lead to a calmer, less-stressed life.

Biofeedback

This type of treatment is best for people who want to control their own lives and their own body. It involves the practice of self-regulating bodily functions that people are typically unaware of (muscle tension, heart rate, respiration, blood flow). This form of therapy involves the use of a machine that measures physiological conditions. A therapist works with the patient to control these bodily systems by using the information “feedback” from the machine to monitor progress. The goal is to be able to relax or energize the body using only the mind.

Self-hypnosis/ Relaxation Imagery

Of course, one can attempt to relax the body without the use of a machine. Often, this is done through guided imagery or self-hypnosis. In guided imagery, a therapist takes the patient through a relaxation process. This includes bringing attention to breathing and muscle tension. The patient then aims to calm their thoughts, repeating an affirmation or visualizing a comforting scene while continuing deep breathing and muscle relaxation. Self-hypnosis simply refers to completing this process without the aid of a therapist.

Exercise

Physical activity relieves tension, improves mood, and makes your body more resistant to the effects of stress. Try to include aerobic exercise to keep the heart healthy along with yoga or tai chi for relaxation.

Eat Well

Though you may think that you need it to get through a high stress day, caffeine (and alcohol) are both stress aggravators. Instead, drink six to eight glasses of water per day to keep yourself hydrated and ready for anything. Foods that are rich in magnesium (whole grains, beans, nuts and veggies) help relax muscles that can become tense from stress. Take a good multivitamin to strengthen your immune system. Most importantly, eat small meals and snacks throughout the day to avoid dips in blood sugar in the afternoon.

GET HELP if you need it

If you have difficulty coping with the symptoms and effects of stress, please seek help from a mental health or medical professional. There are so many tools available for the treatment of this condition that you need not suffer alone.

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Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold, M.D., Ph.D., FACP Ruth Kogen
Executive Director Medical Director Research Editor

Donations to support research and training opportunities combining technology and psychology may be made to our 501c3 nonprofit organization—the Interactive Media Institute.
Donations are tax deductible, and a letter will be provided for tax purposes.

The Virtual News, Volume 3(2)

2003

Current Events at VRMC

We would like to offer a warm welcome to Dr. Shani Robins, Ph.D., the new clinical psychologist at the Palo Alto Clinic. Dr. Robins completed an M.A. and Ph.D. in Cognitive Experimental Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a 2-year Postdoctoral National Institute of Mental Health Fellowship at the University of California, Irvine, was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, and has completed a second Ph.D. respecializing in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego. We would also like to welcome Kathy Vandenburgh, Ph.D. to the San Diego Clinic. Dr. Vandenburgh is a clinical psychologist with an M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology. She has been working in the field for 15 years and is available to treat children, adolescents and adults. Dr. Vandenburgh’s specialties are stress reduction, anxiety disorders and health psychology.

The VRMC is also pleased to announce a new policy regarding insurance payment for services. The clinic now bills insurance companies directly as a courtesy to our patients. Some insurance policies may cover our services as individual psychotherapy billed under the ‘mental health’ benefit portion. Other insurance policies may cover our services under ‘medical parity’. We will be happy to call your insurance to verify.

The VRMC has been awarded a three more grants over the past months. Among these, a grant for using virtual reality to lessen pain associated with dental procedures will be fulfilled in partnership with The Scripps Center for Dental Care in San Diego. In addition, funding has been provided from several organizations to support the CyberTherapy 2004 conference presented by the Interactive Media Institute.

The 2nd Annual CyberTherapy 2004 conference: Using Interactive Media in Training and Therapeutic Interventions has been set for January 10-12, 2004. The meeting will be held at the Westgate Hotel in downtown San Diego and will include presentations by researchers from all over the world. To see more information about the conference, please visit www.vrphobia.com/imi/newconference/index.htm.

Recently, Mark was invited to speak on the use of virtual reality in education and training at a Learning Federation sponsored meeting in Seattle at the University of Washington campus. In addition, Brenda gave a talk on Virtual Reality and Autism at a conference sponsored by the U.S. Army TATRC (Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center).

Special issues of CyberPsychology and Behavior includes a double issue of selected papers from the CyberTherapy 2003 conference published in June and August with several articles by the Wiederholds. The October issue will focus on Canadian virtual reality research and was compiled by Guest Editor Stepháne Bouchard, Ph.D.

We are hoping to include a column in future newsletters called “In Their Own Words” which will be written by a patient who would like to share their story of dealing with and getting treatment for an anxiety disorder. If you are interested in contributing to “In Their Own Words” please write to cyberpsych@vrphobia.com.

Summer Time!

You are driving home from work with your air conditioning going full blast and suddenly you realize: it’s 7:00pm and it is still light out! The recent passing of summer solstice signaled the official start to summer, but we are all beginning to feel the change in the weather and mood. BBQ’s are being dusted off and here in San Diego the beaches are getting more crowded. It’s a time for outdoors and vacations for most of us, but for some summer brings the threat of phobias. Below is a review of several common summer phobias, and suggestions for coping with them to ensure a summer that is more full of fun and less full of fear.

Weather Phobias

In the US, thunderstorm phobias are in the top 10 of fears suffered by the population, indicating how many people potentially suffer from them. Though some of us enjoy the sound of thunder and counting the seconds until lightening strikes, weather phobias affect a wide range of people and can be caused by many different phenomena.

The symptoms and difficulties associated with weather phobia are similar to any kind of phobia. Physiological symptoms such as increased respiration, nausea, panic and sweaty palms (the fight or flight response) all may be involved. Those suffering from weather phobias may be obsessed with watching weather forecasts to see what may be coming to their area.

Any sign of approaching weather can insight panic, not just the weather itself. On a BBC message board, a writer wrote about her terrifying summer months: “I hate summer because I have a thunderstorm phobia. I am constantly on edge from May to September and can only start to relax once the cooler weather comes along in autumn. I get worse after each storm and am usually a nervous wreck at the end of summer. I am now obsessed with thunderstorms and am already dreading next summer.”

Weather phobias can be treated just like any other specific phobia. Though exposure is the best option, it is important to remain calm during episodes of weather. Make sure to breathe deeply and practice relaxation techniques. Monitor muscle tension, and remember that the situation is temporary.

Here is a list of some weather phobias:

  • Achluophobia – fear of darkness
  • Ancraophobia – fear of wind
  • Anemophobia – fear or wind
  • Antlophobia – fear of floods
  • Astraphobia – fear of thunder and lightning
  • Astrapophobia – fear of thunder and lightning
  • Brontophobia – fear of thunder and lightning
  • Ceraunophobia – fear of thunder
  • Chionophobia – fear of snow
  • Cremnophobia – fear of precipices
  • Cryophobia – fear of ice/frost
  • Cymophobia – fear of waves or wave like motions
  • Eosophobia – fear of dawn or daylight
  • Heliophobia – fear of sun/light
  • Homichlophobia – fear of fog/mist/smoke/steam
  • Keraunophobia – fear of thunder
  • Lilapsophobia – fear of tornadoes and hurricanes
  • Lygophobia – fear of darkness
  • Nephelophobia – fear of clouds
  • Nephophobia – fear of fog
  • Noctiphobia – fear of the night
  • Ombrophobia – fear of rain
  • Pagophobia – fear of cold, ice and frost
  • Pluviophobia – fear of rain
  • Psychrophobia – fear of cold
  • Scotophobia – fear of darkness
  • Thermophobia – fear of heat
  • Tonitrophobia – fear of thunder

List and quote taken from www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/phobias.shtml:

Water Phobia

Being afraid of the water is a common problem among people of all ages, though it usually is a disorder of childhood onset. Sometimes the phobia can be traced back to a specific event such as a near drowning or accident, but most often there is no precipitating incident or at least the person cannot remember one.

For people with this phobia, summertime is often the worst. A plethora of pool parties, beach gatherings and camping trips all provide instances when a sufferer must make excuses for their behavior. However, the best treatment for this phobia, as with any phobia, is some type of exposure.

Many institutes and organizations offer swimming lessons specifically for phobic adults and children in a group or private setting. Some summer camps even provide special programs for water phobic campers. For children with the fear, it is important to never force them into the pool or ocean. Learning by watching a parent or sibling enjoying their time in the water is sometimes the best tool for them. Contact your local YMCA or recreation center to find out if they have lessons for those with a phobia.

Insect Phobias

Insect phobia, also known as ENTOMOPHOBIA, includes acarophobia, the fear of mites (scabies) and, the most common, arachnophobia (spiders). Most people are at least slightly fearful of certain insects, but this may be a reasonable fear based on knowledge or experience from stings and bites. Some hypothesize that the danger insects have caused to humans has resulted in an ingrained fear of insects in most societies. Bites and stings to humans produce toxic reactions and sometimes-fatal diseases (which only recently have become under control). This explanation, however, is more likely to underlie the non-clinical end of the fear spectrum than it is to underlie true clinical phobias. A phobia is most often based on an unreasonable or misplaced fear resulting from misinformation. A true insect phobia is a persistent irrational fear of and compelling desire to avoid insects, significant distress from the disturbance despite recognition by the individual that the fear is excessive or unreasonable, and not due to another mental disorder.

The primary tool in treatment is education. An expert in the field may be able to dispel any misconceptions that may be complicating the phobia. Education can work to put insects in a more positive light, and to remove the fears that may be passed on from parents or previous experiences.

Specific phobias are among the most treatable of mental disorders, and though there may not yet be a virtual reality program for all specific phobias, many of the same principles can be applied. Practice relaxation and breathing techniques. Learn all you can about the real dangers posed by each specific situation. Expose yourself gradually to the phobic situation. Most importantly, get help when you need it!

Kids and Summer Camp: What they are scared of and how to help

Each year many children spend part of their summer vacation at a sleepover camp, and many of them become homesick. Still others show signs of water phobia or social phobia, but may be afraid of underlying factors such as changing in front of others. However, the answer is not to keep them home. Summer camp is a great opportunity for a child to practice independence, learn social skills and experience new activities like horseback riding or hiking.

One important part of sending your child to camp is deciding which of the many camps to send them to. It is helpful to focus on three aspects: place, people, and philosophy. What is the location like, and what kind of buildings will your child be staying in? What training does the staff have? Does the camp foster independence and emphasize learning of new skills? You can find out the answers by asking friends where they have sent their children or contacting different camps by letter or phone and requesting videos or brochures and lists of satisfied customers. Make sure you involve your child in the destination decision so that they have the opportunity to become excited about where they are going.

Before sending your child to camp, it is essential to prepare them so that there are no nasty surprises. Practice shorter separations to help children learn how to cope with homesickness. Encourage them to talk about what camp will be like, and tell them about any experiences you may have had at summer camp as a child. Make sure they know that you will miss them, but that you are excited that they will be having so much fun. Sometimes it helps to involve them in packing their bags and letting them choose what to bring with them. Give them paper and stamps so that they know they can contact you, and you may even want to mail a letter early so that it is waiting for them when they get to camp.

Parents can play a big part in helping their children overcome fear and loneliness by helping them understand that those feelings are natural. Talk about possible ways to cope such as physical activity, making friends, and the distraction that comes from learning something new.

Most of all, don’t worry if your child cries or feels lonesome when they first arrive. It’s almost guaranteed that they will want to stay by the end of their time there.

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Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold, M.D., Ph.D., FACP Ruth Kogen
Executive Director Medical Director Research Editor

Donations to support research and training opportunities combining technology and psychology may be made to our 501c3 nonprofit organization—the Interactive Media Institute.
Donations are tax deductible, and a letter will be provided for tax purposes.

The Virtual News, Volume 3(3)

2003

Current Events at VRMC

We’ve reached the end of another year at the VRMC, and things are busier than ever. The clinic recently won a new grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a virtual environment to prevent teen smoking. In addition, projects researching the use of Virtual Reality for pain distraction in burn treatment and dental procedures will begin next month.

The Palo Alto Weekly and ABC News in San Francisco featured the VRMC clinic in several stories in November. In addition, Mark and Brenda recently published articles in CyberPsychology and Behavior, the Psychiatric Times, Psychiatric Services, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. Additionally, Mark and Brenda continue to present new data about virtual reality treatment nation-wide. Brenda recently spoke at the AABT conference in Boston, and both doctors will speak at the CyberTherapy and Medicine Meets Virtual Reality Conferences in January of 2004.

The Interactive Media Institute is working to finalize the program for the 9th Annual CyberTherapy Conference coming up January 10-12, 2004. The accepted presentations encompass a wide variety of topics in the field of virtual reality in mental health, and attendees are expected from at least 15 countries around the world. Sponsors for the 2004 conference include: COAT-Basel, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Hanyang University, Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publishers, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, The Virtual Reality Medical Center and Université du Québec en Outaouais. Please visit the Cybertherapy 2004 Conference website for more information about registration and accepted presentations.

The publishing arm of the VRMC would like to announce the upcoming publication of two new books: Expose Yourself! San Diego, and Conquering Panic, Anxiety, and Phobias: Achieving Success Through Virtual Reality and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Please see our Gift Shop for more information.

The Virtual Reality Medical Center website is currently undergoing renovation. Please visit the newly updated site to learn about virtual reality therapy and changes happening at the clinic; to access new and archived publications; and to give us feedback. We look forward to hearing your suggestions and comments.

From all of us at VRMC, we wish you health, happiness, and success in the coming year.

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In Their Own Words
Stories of Healing Directly from You

Please visit our Stories page to read Kathy Feldman’s “Virtual Reality Therapy And How It Helped”

Have Stress-Free Holidays

It is getting colder outside, and the holidays are upon us. For many this means visiting with family and friends, attending parties and participating in long-standing traditions. While this all sounds enjoyable, it can also cause an overload of STRESS. You may feel that you are having a wonderful time, but if you are losing sleep, or are feeling particularly overwhelmed or tense, stress may be affecting you more than you realize. The following tips can help you breeze through the end of the year.

Delegate, delegate, delegate!

With all of the shopping, cleaning, and extra errands that come along with the holidays, it’s a wonder that people can get anything done. The key to getting through this busy time while still maintaining composure is to write things down and split things up. First, make a to do list. Sometimes just seeing your tasks in print makes the load seem smaller. Once you have your list ready, split up the tasks into bite-sized pieces. Try giving one piece to your child, another to your spouse. Or, split up your own tasks between several days. This will help you save time, and enable you to relax.

Set Limits with Loved Ones:

It’s easy to get carried away with gifts and spending during the holidays, and this often creates undue stress. This is especially true when children see commercial after commercial with new toys and other fun things. Also, you may have many visitors during this time of year, one of which may be a child returned home from college. Make sure to emphasize the importance of non-commercial traditions this holiday season. Not only does this help bring your family together, it limits the debt you will incur. Also, be sure to set limits on your time. While spending time with loved ones and opening your home can be rewarding, it can also be an energy drain. Make time for yourself, and set boundaries.

Reassess and prioritize:

What is truly important to you during the holidays? What traditions do you feel are important, and which are you just doing out of habit? Since these few months can be so busy, make sure to evaluate your priorities periodically. Doing the things you love is infinitely more enjoyable than spending valuable time on those that are simply routine.

Be Gentle with Yourself:

This time of year it is easy for most of us to remember kindness and generosity when dealing with friends and loved ones, but sometimes we do not apply the same standards to ourselves. Try using a generous attitude when dealing with yourself. You are human, and therefore no one expects you to be perfect. Neither should you. Allow yourself the rest, care and understanding that you need to get through this stressful time and still have some fun.


Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold, M.D., Ph.D., FACP Ruth Kogen
Executive Director Medical Director Research Editor

Donations to support research and training opportunities combining technology and psychology may be made to our 501c3 nonprofit organization—the Interactive Media Institute.
Donations are tax deductible, and a letter will be provided for tax purposes.

January 11, 2004

WHAT: Cyberarium – A Virtual Reality Exhibit “Using Interactive Media in Training and Therapeutic Interventions”
WHEN: Sunday, January 11, 2004
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
WHERE: The Westgate Hotel
1055 Second Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
WHY: 9th Annual CyberTherapy 2004 international conference hosted by the non-profit Interactive Media Institute, gathers researchers from 18 countries to demonstrate technological advances in the use of virtual reality to treat medical illness.
HIGHLIGHTS: Visit inter-active exhibits from Canada, Italy, Israel, Spain and the U.S. and experience the latest technology in virtual reality to treat medical conditions. Featuring: video games to remedy phobias, such as fear of flying, claustrophobia and panic disorder; a virtual reality “Snow World” to distract pain during medical treatments; robot baby dolls used for child therapy; a virtual reality world to treat nicotine dependence; a robotic arm to assist individuals with physical disabilities.
COST: Free, but you must register to attend
CONTACT: Interactive Media Institute
Phone: Toll Free 1-866-822-VRMC (8762)
cyberpsych@vrphobia.com
www.interactivemediainstitute.com

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Treatment

Our mission is to develop, test, validate and deliver posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) hardware, software, and clinical protocols for combat troops throughout the world. For those personnel who require PTSD treatment post-deployment, we use a virtual reality graded exposure therapy protocol that allows the patient to authentically and reliably bring up situationally accessed memories (SAMs) in a way that facilitates new learning. Our PTSD treatment works by allowing the therapist to gradually expose the patient to distressing stimuli in the virtual scenarios while teaching skills to regulate breathing and psychophysiological arousal. After a number of sessions, the patient’s hyperaroused (“fight or flight”) response to distressing stimuli is extinguished.





Areas of Specialization in Research

Medical Training

a. Military Medical Training

To address the needs of the military medical community, VRMC has been creating and refining protocols to offer an entirely new option adjunctive to total immersion VR. Most current scenarios designed for training medics employ limited realism that is unable to provide full immersion into combat medical situations involving severe trauma—the kind of simulation experience that will adequately prepare medics for actual battlefield injuries involving bleeding and severe tissue damage. We have successfully added psychological realism and a stress element to our tactical training scenarios by having actors wear prototype simulated wound devices, bringing a new dimension to combat medic training. The feedback from our test combat exercises was overwhelmingly positive, as the corpsmen commented that the injuries were the most realistic they had ever encountered during training. We are currently using a basic science approach to upgrade our training simulators. Our goal is to go beyond special-effects realism to medical realism, so that injuries will not only look real but will feel real and behave like actual tissue.






b. Stress Inoculation Training (SIT)

Deployed personnel must often perform in extremely stressful environments, and optimum performance under such conditions requires the management of physiological, psychological, and emotional responses to stressful stimuli. SIT is a technique to help “inoculate” individuals to future potentially traumatizing stressors. An acute stress reaction (ASR) or combat and operational stress reaction (COSR) can occur during exposure to exceptionally stressful events, resulting in extreme sympathetic nervous system arousal and impaired performance. Longer-term reactions can include acute stress disorder, and acute and chronic PTSD. During preventative SIT, military personnel are taught skills and then “experience” highly stressful situations in a virtual environment while being physiologically monitored. Repeated exposure enables performers to gradually become desensitized to stimuli that may initially elicit such strong physiologic arousal that performance is impeded (i.e., “freezing in the line of fire”) and psychological trauma is more likely.




c. Tactical Training Technology

Using empirical testing, we have thus far observed significant transfer of skills in trainees from virtual training to real-world exercises in our experiments with the U.S. Army, Navy SEALs and Corpsmen, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard personnel using our Virtual Shoot House training system. In a VRMC study, we saw that virtual training can reduce real-world training by 75% in terms of training sessions. Our validation methods include a combination of objective and subjective measurements, such as direct observation during performance by expert military evaluators and feedback from the trainees themselves. We also use physiological monitoring methods, which can indicate levels of anxiety and situational awareness. By understanding the state of the student during training, the simulated training can be modified to add or subtract stressors as would be most appropriate to the situation.



Pain Distraction

VRMC expects to be the first to market with an FDA-cleared medical device using virtual reality (VR) pain management software. Brain imaging shows that being distracted has a real effect in decreasing the intensity of pain signals in the brain. Virtual reality is a more immersive experience than other forms of distraction, and preliminary research indicates that VR actually changes how the brain physically registers pain, not just people’s perception of the incoming signals. Under U.S. government R&D contracts, VRMC has designed and tested its device, showing that VRMC products reduce pain by 75%.




a. Physical Rehabilitation

VRMC is interested in improving physical functioning in both military and civilian populations. In a contract with Walter Reed Hospital, we are using off-the-shelf video games for the physical rehabilitation of veterans. The elderly civilian population is another important target population for treatment. As baby boomers continue to age, the number of age-related diseases and the need
for treatment of these diseases will inevitably rise. We are currently developing a mixed reality rehabilitation system for improving upper extremity movement in stroke-debilitated patients. In mixed reality, virtual enhancements and overlays are delivered in a unique see-through head mounted display such that these virtual contexts enhance normal reality without losing the benefits of a physical setting (touch, smell, hearing, taste). With the Iraq war producing more amputees than in any other war, we are looking into future applications of mixed reality in the direction of prosthetic rehabilitation.




b. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

VRMC has been invited to pursue funding for a study that will test the efficacy of a system providing doctors and field commanders with tools to restore the cognitive functioning of victims of wartime TBI. In many cases, the damaged brain is left to reprogram by itself, often with very serious counterproductive consequences. Sustained by new findings in neural science and functional brain imaging, VRMC is developing ways to use virtual reality (VR) to direct and encourage the natural neural reprogramming processes to promote more rapid and effective cognitive rehabilitation in victims of TBI. VR provides a safe, controlled environment for the kind of repetitive practice that is crucial in stimulating neuroplasticity. It offers immediate, real-time feedback about performance, and because of its interactive nature, can increase motivation by making rehabilitation more enjoyable.



Other Research

In addition to our core areas of specialization, VRMC conducts research in a variety of areas related to using advanced technologies for training, therapy, and emerging applications. The virtual environments that we construct for our clinical and training programs uniformly elicit significant physiological arousal to replicate real-world experiences. We have a strong development team at VRMC, utilizing a three-pronged approach to product and protocol development. New concepts for products are initially discussed with clinicians and technical members of the team, which include software developers, programmers, hardware integrators, and computer graphic artists. And since our team includes international collaborators, we are able to create culturally-sensitive VR systems designed for use with a more diverse group of users.












VR Products – PTSD

Vr Flight | Pain Management | PTSD

VR Products – PTSD

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19.1% of service members returning home form Iraq report having PTSD, major depression, or other mental disorders. 35% of Iraq war veterans accessed mental health services in the year after returning home. Mental health problems reported on the post-deployment assessment were significantly associated with combat experiences. To learn more about the causes and symptoms f PTSD, VRMI has tailored its focus towards post deployed soldiers being affected by PTSD. The battlefield with convoy, battalion camp, hospital, marketplace, and Iraqi village are the virtual environments that VRMC has created for subject exposure. In these scenarios, users with re-experience certain situations like a convoy ambush, patients screaming in pain, the littered streets of  Iraqi villages, citizen interaction, and pre-operation at the battalion camp.

The first step in analyzing subjects with PTSD is to identify the stressors. Subjects are monitored by a real-time physiological device that records the subject’s vital signs, including heart rate, respiration, skin conductance, temperature, electroencephalogram (EEG), and electro cardiogram (ECG). From these recordings, researchers can identify which situations provide the most stress for the subjects. With accurate details based off of scouting reports, media, and soldier interviews, these environments fully immerse the subject in virtual Iraq, allowing him to re-experience the trauma that is the Iraq War without being exposed the life-threatening dangers associated with it.

System Components

VR Station

  • 2 MS Windows XP Compatible PCs (Desktop or Laptop)
  • Head Mounted Display
  • Tracker
  • Joypad

Physio Station

  • MS Windows XP Compatible PC (Desktop or Laptop)
  • Physiological Monitoring Device

Vr Flight | Pain Management | PTSD

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Unlike any other VRMC product, the pain distraction application is uniquely created from the imagination of the mind. The virtual environments for this application avoid the realms of reality, instead of simulating it. Enchanted Forest, Dream Castle, Icy Cool World, and Vista View are currently the virtual environments created for pain distraction. In these worlds, users can roam around at their own leisure, exploring the art-filled four-story castle, witnessing the vibrantly colored tiger-deer, interacting with friendly penguins, and more. Additionally, those who are physically disabled can now scale the icy mountains or take a dip in a swimming pool. All this comes with the added benefit of pain distraction, whether it is at the dentist or doctor’s office.

Using a head mounted display (HMD) provides the patient with an immersive experience where the movement of his/her head directly correlates to what the user sees. Besides the four existing virtual environments, VRMC has created three distinctively different interactive environments: Wind City, Oceaquatic City, and Shell Island. These worlds utilize many of the user’s senses and encourage him/her to become immersed in the world he/she is experiencing. In the end, this program does what reality itself cannot, and that is to make fantasies come to life.

Mobile Platform

PC Version System Components
VR Station

  • MS Windows XP Compatible PC (Desktop or Laptop)
  • Head Mounted Display
  • Tracker
  • Joypad

Research Publications

Publications

Media

Conference Presentations

Newsletters

CyberTherapy Powerpoints

Troubles anxieux

La plupart des gens angoissent avant un événement important comme un gros examen, une présentation d’affaires ou un premier rendez-vous. Cependant, les troubles anxieux sont des maladies qui remplissent jusqu’à saturation les vies des gens d’anxiété et de peur chroniques, incessantes, avec le risque qu’elles empirent. Assaillis par les crises de panique, les pensées obsessionnelles, les flashbacks d’événements traumatiques, les cauchemars, ou les d’innombrables symptômes physiques, certaines personnes souffrant de troubles anxieux se renferment parfois jusqu’à ne plus sortir de chez elles. Heureusement, grâce à la recherche soutenue par le National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), des traitements efficaces existent.

Les troubles anxieux sont-ils fréquents ?

Les troubles anxieux, en tant que groupe, sont la maladie mentale la plus répandue aux États-Unis. Plus de 19 millions d’adultes américains souffrent chaque année de ces maladies débilitantes. Enfants et adolescents peuvent aussi développer des troubles anxieux.

Quels sont les différents types de troubles anxieux ?

Trouble panique — Episodes répétés de peur intense, réguliers et sans avertissement. Les symptômes physiques comprennent douleurs à la poitrine, essoufflement, vertiges, malaises abdominaux, sentiment d’irréalité et peur de mourir.

Trouble obsessionnel compulsif (TOC) — Pensées ou comportements répétés et non voulus qui paraissent impossibles à arrêter ou à contrôler.

Trouble de stress post-traumatique (TSPT) — Symptômes persistants apparaissant après avoir vécu ou assisté à un événement traumatique tel qu’un viol ou autre agression, la guerre, des violences lors de l’enfance, une catastrophe naturelle ou de nature humaine, ou un accident de voiture. Il est commun d’être sujet aux cauchemars, aux flashbacks, à la perte d’émotions, à la dépression, à la colère, à l’irritabilité, aux distractions ou de sursauter facilement. Les membres de la famille des victimes peuvent également développer ce trouble.

Phobies — Les deux types majeurs de phobies sont la phobie sociale et la phobie spécifique. Les personnes atteintes de phobie sociale ont une peur écrasante et débilitante d’être jugées, gênées ou humiliées en société, ce qui les amène à éviter de nombreuses activités potentiellement agréables et intéressantes. Elles ressentent une peur extrême et irrationnelle envers des situations peu voire pas dangereuses. En évitant certains objets ou certaines situations, ces personnes risquent de restreindre leur vie inutilement.

Trouble anxieux généralisé (TAG) — Pensées inquiètes constantes et exagérées et tension concernant la routine quotidienne, durant au moins six mois. La personne imagine presque toujours le pire alors qu’il n’y a pas ou peu de raisons que ça arrive. S’accompagne de symptômes physiques tels que fatigue, tremblements, tension musculaire, maux de tête ou nausées.

Quels traitements sont efficaces contre les troubles anxieux ?

Des traitements ont été amplement développés grâce aux recherches menées par le NIMH et d’autres institutions de recherche. Ils aident nombre de patients atteints de troubles anxieux et combinent la plupart du temps une médication et certains types spécifiques de psychothérapies.

On s’est rendu compte que plusieurs médicaments à l’origine efficaces pour traiter la dépression l’étaient également contre les troubles anxieux. Parmi ces antidépresseurs récents, on retrouve les inhibiteurs sélectifs de la recapture de la sérotonine (ISRS). D’autres médicaments anxiolytiques comprennent benzodiazépines et bétabloquants. Si un médicament se révèle inefficace, on peut en essayer d’autres. De nouveaux médicaments sont actuellement en développement pour traiter les symptômes de l’anxiété.

Deux formes de psychothérapies dont l’efficacité est cliniquement prouvée sont la thérapie comportementale et la thérapie cognitivo-comportementale. La thérapie comportementale se concentre sur la modification d’actions spécifiques et a recours à diverses techniques pour mettre un terme aux comportements non désirés. Par ailleurs, la thérapie cognitivo-comportementale apprend aux patients à comprendre et modifier leurs schémas de pensées afin de réagir différemment aux situations à l’origine de leur angoisse.

Les troubles anxieux coexistent-ils avec d’autres troubles physiques ou mentaux ?

Il est courant qu’un trouble anxieux s’accompagne de dépression, troubles de l’alimentation, alcoolisme ou toxicomanie, ou d’un autre trouble anxieux. Les troubles anxieux peuvent aussi coexister avec des maladies comme le cancer ou une maladie cardiaque. Dans de tels cas, il faut aussi traiter les troubles liés. Avant tout traitement, il est cependant important de passer un examen médical approfondi afin d’éliminer tout autre cause potentielle aux symptômes.

Autres troubles anxieux

Les psychologues et les psychiatres peuvent traiter les troubles liés au stress comme les migraines ou céphalées, les douleurs de la mâchoire chroniques et le syndrôme du côlon irritable. De plus, ils peuvent enseigner des techniques de gestion du stress.

Le Virtual Reality Medical Center emploie des psychologues et des psychiatres en mesure de traiter les patients avec une thérapie cognitivo-comportementale traditionnelle. Par excellence, celle-ci consiste à apprendre des techniques de gestion du stress et de l’anxiété dont le patient pourra se servir dans des situations anxiogènes, puis de l’exposer à des photos ou vidéos de l’objet de sa phobie. Selon les troubles, certains nécessiteront ensuite une exposition à l’objet réel dans le monde réel, dès que le patient s’en sentira capable.

* Les informations de cette page proviennent du site de la NIMH.

Pour plus d’informations ou pour fixer un rendez-vous, appelez-nous au email: office @ vrphobia.eu or telephone +32 4 79 224 531.

Home

Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) is een Belgisch bedrijf gelegen op de Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe campus van de Université Catholique de Louvain. Gekozen als één van de eerste vennootschappen van de Brussels Life Science Incubator (BLSI), voor startende ondernemingen in geavanceerde technologie en gezondheidszorgen, was VRMI ook één van de Belgische kmo’s die in juni 2013 heeft deelgenomen aan de Belgische economische missie naar California, geleidt door Prins Filip, nu Koning Filip van België.

In 2013, vestigde VRMI een mentale gezondheidszorg privékliniek in Brussel om aan de behoeften van de expat gemeenschap te voldoen. VRMI gebruikt virtuele werkelijkheid (3-dimensioneel computer simulatie) als therapie in samenstelling met fysiologische controle (biofeedback) om paniek en angststoornissen te behandelen. Deze condities omvatten specifieke fobieën zoals vliegangstangst voor afdrijvenhoogtevreesangst voor het spreken in het openbaarangst voor onweersbuienclaustrofobieagorafobiearachnofobiesociale fobiepaniekstoornis. Voor stoornissen veroorzaakt door de stress, worden algemene stressbestrijding en ontspanning vaardigheden geleerd. De therapie door virtuele werkelijkheid plaatst de patiënt in een wereld gegenereerd door de computer, waarin hij de verschillende stimuli verbonden aan zijn fobie kan ervaren. De patiënt draagt een helm voor virtuele werkelijkheid, met kleine TV schermen en oortelefoons om visuele en auditieve signalen te krijgen.

Na een intakegesprek en sessies waarin de patiënt zijn capaciteiten verbetert om hem te leren hoe hij zijn automatische respons op angstwekkende situaties kan controleren, de therapeut en de patiënt meewerken om een hiërarchisatie van deze angstwekkende situaties te creëren. Door zorgvuldige en gecontroleerde fasen, is de patiënt blootgesteld aan virtuele ervaringen die steeds hoger angstniveaus produceren. Men kan elke fase herhalen totdat de patiënt comfortabel met de ervaring en tevreden met zijn respons is. Op elke fase, mag de therapeut zien en horen wat de patiënt in de virtuele wereld ervaart. Als het angstniveau te ontzaglijk wordt, kan de patiënt op een minder stress veroorzakend niveau van de behandeling terugkomen, of gewoonweg de helm afnemen en de virtuele wereld verlaten.

Met het gebruik van een platform van gecombineerd communicaties (een jaarlijks internationale conferentie, gespecialiseerde workshops, opleidingen voor clinici, een intercollegiale getoetste wetenschappelijke publicatie, een driemaandelijks tijdschrift, en een portaalsite van informatie), is VRMI ook actief in het informeren en het onderwijzen van het grote publiek, beleidsmakers, financiering agenten, de industrie en de academische wereld. Wij zijn in R&D projecten in Europa, Azië en de V.S. gedurende de afgelopen 25 jaar betrokken. Nu werken de hoofden van VRMI actief om meer dan 30 ontwikkelde producten en plichtplegingen op de markt te brengen. Momenteel, zoekt VRMI een distributiekanaal partner, een “business angel”, of een risicokapitaal om dit doel te bereiken.

VRMI heeft affiliëren in China en de V.S., en kiest de doelstellingen van de Europese Unie voor het ontwikkelen van de gezondheidszorg van de toekomst. VRMI heeft expertise in simulatietechnologies in drie hoofdsectoren: 1) het behandelen van patiënten lijdend aan stress, angst, trauma en chronische pijn; 2) opleiding voor militaire artsen en voor civiele eerste hulpverleners, en 3) het verbeteren van educatieve medische programma’s. Samen met de Belgische Erasmus programma, dient VRMI ook als een begeleider voor jonge ondernemers.

Om meer informatie te krijgen, neem contact op met:

Professor Dr. Brenda K Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCB, BCN

President

Virtual Reality Medical Institute

30 Clos Chapelle aux Champs, 6de verdieping

1200 Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe

+32 4 79 224 531 (English)

office @ vrphobia.eu

http://www.vrphobia.eu

Peurs, phobies & troubles   |     F.A.Q 

Thérapie Virtuelle

A propos de nous

Virtual Reality Medical Institute

Le Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) est une PME base à Bruxelles (Belgique). En 2011, VRMI a été choisi parmi les premières entreprises pour occuper le Brussels Life Sciences Incubator (BLSI) situé sur le campus de l’Université Catholique de Louvain de Woluwé-Saint-Lambert.

Le Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) est spécialisé dans l’utilisation des technologies avancées telles que la réalité virtuelle et la télésanté pour améliorer la qualité et l’accès aux soins de santé pour les habitants du monde. VRMI développe et teste les applications de ces technologies dans les domaines médicaux et psychologiques (formation, thérapie, éducation, réhabilitation). VRMI met l’accent sur :

– La recherche. VRMI travaille avec des partenaires et des bailleurs de fonds internationaux afin d’étudier les applications possibles de la technologie pour les troubles liés au stress, les troubles de l’anxiété, la formation à la résistance au stress, la prévention du tabagisme et la désaccoutumance au tabac, la formation médicale, la formation des jeunes conducteurs, et les effets pharmacologiques.

En outre, VRMI prend part à la recherche sur l’interaction entre humains et ordinateurs, permettant une meilleure compréhension de l’impact des réseaux sociaux et d’autres technologies sur les comportements individuels, les relations et la société dans son ensemble.

– L’éducation. VRMI publie des revues, des articles, des livres et d’autres supports de communication afin d’informer et de former tant une audience professionnelle que le grand public.

– La collaboration. VRMI encourage la collaboration internationale via l’organisation de conférences, des formations continues, des groupes de réflexion avancés, d’autres événements spécialisés, et des présentations lors de conférences.

Pour faciliter sa stratégie de croissance et pour permettre à la clinique de mener à bien les projets de diffusion et d’exploitation ainsi que les essais cliniques et marketing, VRMI emploie un personnel hautement qualifié qui travaille avec un matériel informatique et des logiciels de pointe. Son expertise interne est particulièrement étendue grâce à un réseau de collaborations internationales avec des organisations similaires mais complémentaires et des experts de très haut niveau.

 

 

Capacités

Plus spécifiquement, les atouts majeurs de VRMI sont :

  • La recherche et le développement technologique : l’équipe de VRMI réunit les meilleurs scientifiques pour proposer de hautes performances quant aux projets de recherche et a également fait breveter plusieurs inventions.
  • Démonstration : en plus de fonds de recherche, l’équipe de VRMI a remporté des fonds de développement des produits, amenant divers logiciels et matériels informatiques dans leur phase de prototype et attirant des intérêts de capital-risque.
  • Activités d’innovation – protection et diffusion de la connaissance : l’équipe de VRMI excelle dans la diffusion de ses connaissances grâce à des publications dans des revues spécialisées, l’organisation de conférences, de réunions, d’ateliers et d’autres événements, ainsi que des présentations lors de séminaires, tout en assurant la confidentialité de la propriété intellectuelle de nos partenaires.
  • Gestion des projets : comme ses partenaires en attesteront, l’équipe de VRMI incarne l’amélioration constante dans le cadre de la gestion des projets, coordonne parfaitement les travaux de scientifiques en provenance de différents pays, et respecte toujours les délais et les objectifs de coût.
  • Formation des chercheurs et du personnel clé : l’équipe de VRMI possède actuellement plusieurs contrats de formation pour les utilisateurs de ses produits, avec un taux de satisfaction de 100%.

 

Le Potentiel de la Réalité Virtuelle (en anglais)

Si vous avez le moindre doute sur un aspect inexpliqué sur le site, n’hésitez pas à nous contacter.

http://twitter.com/VirtualBrenda

@VirtualBrenda

 

Pour plus d’informations, rendez-vous sur la page dédiée à l’équipe.

Accueil

Le site est en cours de traduction ; seules quelques pages (d’accueil et répertoriant les maladies cliniques) sont déjà traduites. Merci de votre compréhension et n’hésitez pas à revenir plus tard !

Le Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) est une société belge située sur le campus de Woluwe-Saint-Lambert de l’Université Catholique de Louvain (Louvain-en-Woluwe). Choisie parmi les premiers occupants du Brussels Life Science Incubator (BLSI), dédié aux start-ups des secteurs de la technologie de pointe et de la santé, VRMI a également été l’une des PME belges ayant pris part à la mission économique belge de juin 2013 en Californie (menée par le Prince Philippe, à présent Roi Philippe 1er de Belgique).

En 2013, VRMI a établi une clinique privée de santé mentale à Bruxelles pour venir en aide à la communauté d’expatriés anglophones. VRMI utilise la thérapie par la réalité virtuelle (simulation numérique en 3 dimensions) avec un contrôle physiologique (biofeedback) pour traiter les troubles paniques et les troubles anxieux. Ces conditions comprennent les phobies spécifiques telles que la peur de volerla peur de conduire, la peur des hauteurs, la peur de parler en public, la peur des orages, la claustrophobie, l’agoraphobie, l’arachnophobie, la phobie sociale, le trouble panique. Des techniques générales de gestion du stress et de détente sont enseignées pour les troubles liés au stress. La thérapie par la réalité virtuelle expose le patient à un monde généré par ordinateur, au travers duquel il « ressent » les différents stimuli liés à sa phobie. Le patient porte un casque de réalité virtuelle doté de petits écrans TV et d’écouteurs stéréophoniques, ce qui lui permet de recevoir des signaux tant visuels qu’auditifs.

Après une séance d’initiation et des séances d’apprentissage des techniques destinées à apprendre au patient à contrôler ses réactions automatiques face aux situations anxiogènes, le thérapeute et le patient travaillent ensemble pour dégager une hiérarchisation des situations anxiogènes. Par étapes consciencieuses et contrôlées, on expose le patient à ces expériences virtuelles qui déclenchent des degrés d’angoisse chaque fois plus importants. Chaque étape peut être réitérée jusqu’à ce que le patient se sente à l’aise et qu’il soit satisfait de l’expérience et de ses réactions. A chaque étape, le thérapeute voit et entend ce que le patient vit dans le monde virtuel. Si le degré d’anxiété devient trop intense, le patient peut retourner à une étape moins stressante du traitement, ou simplement retirer le casque et sortir du monde virtuel.

Utilisant une plateforme de communications combinée (une conférence internationale annuelle, des ateliers spécialisés, des formations pour cliniciens, une revue scientifique spécialisée, un magazine trimestriel, et un portail d’information sur internet), VRMI informe et instruit aussi le grand public, le législateur, les agents financiers, l’industrie et le monde universitaire. Après avoir été impliqués dans des projets de recherche & développement en Europe, Asie et aux Etats-Unis lors des 25 dernières années, les dirigeants de VRMI travaillent à présent activement à commercialiser plus de 30 produits et protocoles développés. Pour le moment, VRMI recherche un partenaire de canal de distribution, un « business angel », ou un capital-risque pour nous aider à mener ce projet à bien.

VRMI est aussi implanté en Chine et aux Etats-Unis et se joint aux ambitions de l’Union européenne de développer les soins de santé du futur. Chez VRMI, nous sommes experts des technologies de simulation dans trois domaines principaux : 1) le traitement des patients atteints de stress, d’anxiété, de traumatismes, ou de douleurs chroniques ; 2) la formation des médecins militaires et des premiers intervenants civils ; 3) l’amélioration des programmes médicaux pédagogiques. Collaborant étroitement avec le programme Erasmus belge, VRMI sert également de mentor aux jeunes entrepreneurs.

Pour plus d’informations, veuillez contacter :

Professeur Dr. Brenda K Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCB, BCN

Présidente

Virtual Reality Medical Institute

30 Clos Chapelle aux Champs, 6e étage

1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert

+32 4 79 224 531 (English)

office @ vrphobia.eu

http://www.vrphobia.eu

Location & Directions

 Prelelindenlaan 64, box 5
1200 Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe, Belgium

Get Professional Biofeedback Services Backed By Certification. Available in Belgium.

  • Only Certified Biofeedback Professional in Belgium (www.bcia.org)

Virtual Reality Medical Institute specializes in consulting services for your research on stress management, specific phobias (flying, driving, heights, public speaking, etc), panic disorder and agoraphobia using virtual reality exposure therapy and physiological monitoring and biofeedback, social phobias, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to motor vehicle accidents and chronic pain conditions. Located in Brussels, Belgium (Woluwe Saint Lambert), with worldwide presence in USA: San Diego, La Jolla and Coronado, California and China. We tailor the treatment to work at your individual pace.

Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI)
Prekelindenlaan 64
box 5
1200 Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe
Belgium
Brenda K. Weiderhold, Ph.D, MBA, BCB, BCN
+1 858 642 0267
Frontoffice @ vrphobia.com
Certificate No: B4293, E1262
See BCIA Directory Details for Brenda K. Wiederhold HERE
BCIA Certification

Disorders treatable

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Chronic Pain
  • Headache – Adult Headache
  • Pain
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Stress Management
  • Stress-Related Disorders
  • Teaching/Mentoring Only
Yes BCB: professionals certified in general biofeedback covering all modalities such as SEMG, Thermal, GSR, HRV, and an overview of neurofeedback.
Yes BCN: professionals certified in neurofeedback or EEG Biofeedback.
No BCB-PMD: professionals certified to use SEMG biofeedback to treat elimination disorders including incontinence, and pelvic pain.

To learn more, or ask any questions please email: frontoffice@vrphobia.com

VRMI is currently focusing on medical and psychological research studies using Virtual Reality technology, as well as participating in EU projects and EU consulting.  VRMI welcomes you to our affiliated clinics in California for Condensed Treatment therapies (1 session per day for 10 days).

Our affiliated non-profit, Interactive Media Institute, also welcomes you to our training facilities in California should you be interested in clinician training on Virtual Reality.

  • Leasing equipment, expertise and operators.

  • Perfect for your research study needs, therapy work and more.

 

Training

Professional Development – Training courses

Interactive Media Institute (IMI), a 501c3 non-profit, is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education courses.

VRMI is pleased to announce the following course offerings in conjunction with IMI:

  • Virtual Reality and Anxiety Disorders (including phobias and panic disorder)
  • Virtual Reality and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Virtual Reality and Pain Management

We are also pleased to offer VR therapy training for therapists interested in learning how to incorporate VR into their existing practices.  If individual training

is requested, it is held at the Virtual Reality Medical Center site in San Diego.

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Conferences

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Future conferences

22nd Annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY22)

Wolverhampton, UK

26-28 June 2017

Past conferences

 

CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY21) 27-29 June 2016, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Rep. of Ireland 

CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY20) 29 June to 2 July 2015, La Jolla, California (UCSD campus)

CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy, & Social Networking (CYPSY19), June 2014, Washington DC

CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy, & Social Networking (CYPSY18):  July 1-2, 2013 Brussels, Belgium

2012 NATO Advanced Study Institute: Invisible Wounds:  New Tools to Enhance Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis & Treatment:  Ankara, Turkey

CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy, & Social Networking (CYPSY17):  September 2012, Brussels, Belgium

2011 NATO: Wounds of War IV:  Pain Syndromes – From Recruitment to Returning Troops:  Klopeiner See, Austria

CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy, & Social Networking (CYPSY16):  June 2011, Quebec, Canada

2011 NATO: Wounds of War III:  Coping with Blast-Related Traumatic Brain Injury in Returning Troops:  Vienna, Austria

Virtual Reality-Assisted Exposure Therapy for Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) APA Continuing Education Course

CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking (CYPSY15):  June 2010, Seoul, South Korea

2009 NATO: Wounds of War II:  Coping with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Returning Troops:  Klopeiner See, Austria

2009 ARO Beyond Brain Machine Interfaces

CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking (CYPSY14):  June 2009, Lago Maggiore, Italy

CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation (CYPSY13) 2008:  San Diego, California

2007 NATO: Wounds of War I:  Lowering Suicide Risk in Returning Troops:  Klopeiner See, Austria

CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation (CYPSY12) 2007:  Washington, DC

CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation (CYPSY11) 2006:  Quebec, Canada

CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation (CYPSY10) 2005:  Basel, Switzerland

Adaptive Displays 2004

CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation (CYPSY 9) 2004:  San Diego, California

CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation (CYPSY 8) 2003:  San Diego, California

Editorials

Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking

2015- Volume 18

Number 2, 2015 Brain Interventions and Neuroethics Must Coexist Peacefully 

Number 1, 2015 Sustainable Responsible Research and Innovation Through Secure, Private Data 

 

2014 – Volume 17

Number X, 2014  Effect of Virtual Reality PTSD Treatment on Mood and Neurocognitive Outcomes

Number 12, 2014 Social Networking: A Force for Good in Responsible Research 

Number 9, 2014 Cyberbullying and LGBTQ Youth: A Deadly Combination 

Number 3, 2014  The Role of Psychology in Enhancing Cybersecurity

Number 1, 2014  How Can More Women-Owned Technology Businesses Get Funding?

2013 – Volume 16

Number 6, 2013  Ensuring the Best Care for Our Increasing Aging Population: Health Engagement and Positive Technology Can Help Patients Achieve a More Active Role in Future Healthcare
Number 5, 2013  Avatars: Changing Behavior for Better or for Worse?
Number 3, 2013  Time to Port Augmented Reality Health Apps to Smart Glasses?
Number 11, 2013  In a Disaster, Social Media Has the Power to Save Lives
Number 1, 2013  Journal Expansion Will Include Articles on Cybertherapy and Rehabilitation
Number 1, 2013  Are ‘‘Facebook Murders’’ a Growing Trend?

 

2012 – Volume 15

Number 9, 2012  An Antidote for Groupthink— A Qualified Lottery for Research Dollars
Number 8, 2012  As Parents Invade Facebook, Teens Tweet More
Number 5, 2012  Self-Tracking: Better Medicine Through Pattern Recognition
Number 4, 2012  ICT: This Transformer Isn’t Science Fiction
Number 3, 2012  Time to Scrap the U.S. System of Medical Device Regulation? 
Number 2, 2012  The Present and Future of Positive Technologies
Number 2, 2012  Positive Technology: Using Interactive Technologies to Promote Positive Functioning
Number 2, 2012  Positive Technology Supports Shift to Preventive, Integrative Health
Number 11, 2012  Social Media is Shifting Power from Advertisers to Consumers 
Number 11, 2012  Emotionally Based Strategic Communications and Societal Stress-Related Disorders

 

2011 – Volume 14

Number 1-2, 2011  What Are the True Costs of Regulation?
Number 9, 2011  Should Adult Sexting Be Considered for the DSM?
Number 7-8, 2011  Who Gets Funding? Let the People Decide
Number 5, 2011  What Will It Take to Get IRB Reform?
Number 4, 2011  Investment in Innovation: Lessons Learned from China
Number 4, 2011  A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Virtual Reality-Graded Exposure Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Active Duty Service Members with Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Number 10. What Would Happen If We Treated Scientists Like Rock Stars?
Number 11, 2011  Build Trust, Engage People to Increase Understanding of Science
Number 12, 2011  Citizen Scientists Generate Benefits for Researchers, Educators, Society, and Themselves

 

 

2010 – Volume 13

Number 6, 2010  Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking Completes Another Milestone
Number 4, 2010  Using Objective Measures Prepares Psychologists for a Brain-Based Taxonomy
Number 3, 2010  Psychology Should Emulate Physics
Number 2, 2010  What’s in a Name?
Number 1, 2010  Virtual Reality Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Due to Motor Vehicle Accident
Number 1, 2010  Use VR Handhelds in Mass Casualty Disasters
Number 1, 2010  PTSD Threatens Global Economies
Number 1, 2010  Lessons Learned from 350 Virtual-Reality Sessions with Warriors Diagnosed with Combat-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Number 1, 2010  Interreality in Practice: Bridging Virtual and Real Worlds in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorders
Number 1, 2010  Exposure Therapy with and without Virtual Reality to Treat PTSD while in the Combat Theater: A Parallel Case Series
Number 1, 2010  CyberStudies: Lessons from the Trenches

 

2009 – Volume 12

Number 5, 2009 The 14th Annual CyberTherapy & CyberPsychology Conference
Number 3, 2009  Rapid Communication Auditory Cues Increase the Hippocampal Response to Unimodal Virtual Reality
Number 3, 2009  A View to the Future

 

2008 – Volume 11

Number 2, 2008 Early Sexual Experiences: The Role of Internet Access and Sexually Explicit Material

 

2007 – Volume 10

Number 4, 2007  Pain Modulation during Drives through Cold and Hot Virtual Environments
Number 4, 2007  Immersiveness and Physiological Arousal within Panoramic Video-Based Virtual Reality
Number 2, 2007  Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:A Case Report Using Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy with Physiological Monitoring

 

2006 – Volume 9

Number 6, 2006  Editorial

 

2005 – Volume 8

Number 4, 2005  Effects of Group Experiential Cognitive Therapy for the Treatment of Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia
Number 4, 2005  Editorial CyberTherapy 2005

 

2004 – Volume 7

Number 6, 2004  Nicotine Craving and Cue Exposure Therapy by Using Virtual Environments
Number 3, 2004  Guest Editorial

 

2003 – Volume 6

Number 4, 2003  Three-Year Follow-Up for Virtual Reality Exposure for Fear of Flying
Number 4, 2003  Guest Editorial
Number 4, 2003  A Virtual Reality System for the Assessment and Rehabilitation of the Activities of Daily Living
Number 4, 2003  A Virtual Environment for Investigating Schizophrenic Patients’ Characteristics: Assessment of Cognitive and Navigation Ability
Number 3, 2003  Guest Editorial
Number 3, 2003  Exploring the Use of Computer Games and Virtual Reality in Exposure Therapy for Fear of Driving Following a Motor Vehicle Accident
Number 3, 2003  Experimental Application of Virtual Reality for Nicotine Craving through Cue Exposure

 

2002 – Volume 5

Number 3, 2002  Panic and Agoraphobia in a Virtual World
Number 3, 2002  Editorial
Number 1, 2002  Physiological Monitoring as an Objective Tool in Virtual Reality Therapy
Number 1, 2002  Analysis of Physiological Response to Two Virtual Environments: Driving and Flying Simulation

 

1998 – Volume 1

Number 4, 1998  A Bibliography of Articles Relevant to the Application of Virtual Reality in the Mental Health Field
Number 2, 1998  Overview of the Virtual Reality and Mental Health Symposium
Number 2, 1998  Fear of Flying: A Case Report Using Virtual Reality Therapy with Physiological Monitoring
Number 1, 1998  A Review of Virtual Reality as a Psychotherapeutic Tool

 

Top 10 Developments as We Move into Third Decade of Virtual Reality…

https://healthmanagement.org/c/healthmanagement/issuearticle/virtual-reality-clinic-a-case-study  

The growing role of VR in healthcare.

How has VR developed and what potential does it have for future healthcare? In the 1990s, there were no resources dedicated to virtual reality (VR) and behavioural healthcare – no journals, no clinics, no conferences, no training programmes and only few advanced technologies. Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a new exciting and challenging era of technology-enhanced behavioural healthcare…

New Randomized Double-Blind Clinical Study Shows Oska Pulse Significantly Reduces Pain

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-randomized-double-blind-clinical-study-shows-oska-pulse-significantly-reduces-pain-300594128.html CARLSBAD, Calif., Feb. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Oska Wellness, a technology company committed to developing consumer health and wellness products, has released the results of a randomized double-blind placebo study showing significant results in pain reduction by using Oska Pulse. The clinical trial was completed at the Virtual Reality Medical Center, Scripps Memorial Hospital, in La Jolla, Californiaand conducted by a respected team of doctors: Dr. Joseph Shurman, Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Dr. Roger Kasendorf, Dr. John Qian, and Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold.  The detailed findings have been published here, the Practical Pain Management Journal website, which offers current, useful, and practical information for patients living with chronic pain, and for the medical professionals who treat them. “We were very encouraged with this trial and it has provided valuable information on how PEMF therapy can treat chronic pain,” said Dr. Brenda Wiederhold. “With the opioid epidemic, it is really timely to find other non-narcotic pain relief solutions for patients.” “I am very excited as the study confirms that using the Oska Pulse is a true pain relief device regardless of the user(s) background.” Greg Houlgate, President and CEO of Oska Wellness. “Oska Pulse is providing relief for many early users of the product by helping to reduce back, shoulder, knee, ankle, and foot pain, as well as chronic pain issues. The feedback from this double-blind study confirms that Oska Pulse can really help people dealing with pain.”

Virtual Reality for the Attenuation of Pain and Anxiety

The Virtual Reality Medical Center and nonprofit affiliate, Interactive Media Institute, recently published the article, “Using Virtual Reality to Mobilize Health Care: Mobile Virtual Reality Technology for Attenuation of Anxiety and Pain” in the January Issue of IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine. The article summarizes the use of virtual reality as a tool for pain distraction and stress reduction in patients. This tool has been used to treat phobias, stress disorders, distract from surgical pain, and help overcome chronic pain. As a mobile healthcare platform, virtual reality and related technologies are changing the face of healthcare services by increasing access, efficiency, and effectiveness. For the full text, please visit: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8197481/ Please direct any questions regarding this article to Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold at frontoffice@vrphobia.com     Wiederhold BK, Miller IT, Wiederhold MD. Using Virtual Reality to Mobilize Health Care: Mobile Virtual Reality Technology for Attenuation of Anxiety and Pain. IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine. 2018 Jan;7(1):106-9.

Emerging Technologies Helping to Mobilize Healthcare Services

Collaborating with an international group of researchers, Dr. Brenda Wiederhold, Ian Miller, and Dr. Mark Wiederhold recently published a chapter in Digital Health: Scaling Healthcare to the World. Edited by Homero Rivas and  Katarzyna Wac of Stanford University, this book presents a comprehensive overview of state-of-the-art approach to digital health technologies and healthcare practices. Wiederhold, Miller, and Wiederhold contributed a chapter titled, “Augmenting Behavioral Healthcare:Mobilizing Services with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.” This chapter focuses on the use of virtual and augmented reality in behavioral healthcare. More specifically, it describes how these portable technologies can be used to increase access and efficiency of behavioral health interventions.   You may purchase the full text at: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-61446-5_9 For questions regarding the chapter, please contact Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold (frontoffice@vrphobia.com). Wiederhold BK, Miller I, Wiederhold MD. Augmenting Behavioral Healthcare: Mobilizing Services with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. InDigital Health 2018 (pp. 123-137). Springer, Cham.

Encompassing Mental Health

San Diego, CA: On September 29th, 2017, Interactive Media Institute (IMI) traveled to Riverside, California to present at the annual Encompassing Mental Health (EMH) conference. Organized by Reach Out and the Inland Health Professions Coalition—a youth development organization—this event educated high school juniors and seniors in the Moreno Valley area on behavioral health practice, pathway, and occupations. IMI’s representative, Ian Miller, spoke to the conference attendees about the use of virtual reality in behavioral health interventions and the importance of increasing access to mental health services in their community. Additionally, the attendees participated in a group discussion about destigmatizing mental illness. When asked about what they had learned, one student planning to study psychology in college said “I’d never heard of virtual reality therapy until today, but it’s an interesting new field in psychology!” While receiving a demonstration on the use of virtual reality relaxation in the treatment of anxiety disorders, another attendee said “It’s so cool that I can just put on this headset and sit on a beach to relax.”

28th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management

On Friday, October 20, Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold was an invited speaker at the Academy of Integrative Pain Management’s 28th Annual Meeting. As the “largest network of pain care professionals”, this conference exhibited the best practices and latest advancements in integrative pain management. Recent attention on the opioid crisis in America has heightened the awareness for nonpharmacological adjunctive pain care techniques. Virtual reality (VR) has emerged as an innovative technological application for pain distraction. Dr. Wiederhold’s presentation focused on the use of virtual reality as an adjunctive pain management tool. With twenty-one years of clinical virtual reality (VR) experience, Dr. Wiederhold shared her VR research in dental pain management, surgical pain distraction, and chronic pain management. Referencing less medication, less pain, and lower physician stress, Dr. Wiederhold cited recent surgical pain distraction publications that highlight the significance of VR’s health care capabilities. “In both gynecological surgery and endoscopic procedures, physiological indicators of pain were reduced in patients using VR distraction”, Wiederhold noted. The presentation concluded with a brief question and answer. Contact:  frontoffice @ vrphobia.com (delete the spaces to send an email) Visit our YouTube channel for more information:  www.Youtube.com/VirtualMedical

Gender Differences in Virtual Reality Surgical Pain Distraction

Researchers from Belgium, Italy, Mexico, and California (USA) recently published a report comparing gender differences in virtual reality pain distraction following cardiac surgery. This international team from previous compared patients’ physiological and subjective responses based on gender. Very few studies have examined gender differences in physiological responses to VR. This study suggests that VR is an effective medium to reduce stress and anxiety in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. The researchers are interested in continued investigation and are working toward making this intervention more effective, less expensive and available across platforms to include mobile healthcare and behavioral health. For information on this study, please contact the corresponding author, Brenda K. Wiederhold (frontoffice@vrphobia.com). To access the full text: http://www.alliedacademies.org/articles/study-of-gender-differences-in-vr-response-following-cardiac-surgery-6922.html Mosso JL, Wiederhold BK, La Paglia F, Guarino D, La Barbera D, Mosso Jr JL, Miller I, Wiederhold MD. Study of gender differences in VR response following cardiac surgery. Journal of Psychology and Cognition. 2017;2(1). http://www.alliedacademies.org/articles/study-of-gender-differences-in-vr-response-following-cardiac-surgery-6922.html

The Power of Virtual Reality for Pain and Anxiety

http://pain-practitioner.aapainmanage.org/doc/american-academy-of-pain-management/the-pain-practitioner---aug17/2017080801/#20   The Pain Practitioner interviewed Professor Dr. Brenda K Wiederhold, Chief Executive Officer of the Interactive Media Institute, a 501c3 non-profit, and President of the Virtual Reality Medical Center.  Please click on Pain Practitioner link above to read the 3-page interview.   Contact Information:   Email:  frontoffice @ vrphobia.com Wiederhold's clinic uses the technology for medical therapy to help patients deal with PTSD, anxiety, phobias (like fear of flying), pain during medical procedures and chronic pain. She predicts more clinics using VR will pop-up in California and across the country within the near future.         Contact Information: Virtual Reality Medical Center 9834 Genesee Avenue, Suite 427 La Jolla, California USA frontoffice @ vrphobia.com

Helping teens curb the desire to smoke with virtual reality

On July 31, 2017 The Open Family Studies Journal published “Virtual Reality Smoking Cessation—Designed for Teens, by Teens. This report, conducted by the Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC) and Interactive Media Institute (IMI), sought to teach high school students how to recognize and resist triggers or “cues” that make them want to smoke. With input from the students themselves, VRMC created a virtual home and virtual school containing scenes that typically evoke an urge to smoke. The students were then prompted with games like stomp the cigarette butt to help extinguish the urge. They could also choose to play the virtual drums as a form of distraction. Overall, the report explains the Cue Exposure Therapy (CET) used to treat smoking addictions, how the virtual environments were created, and the program functionalities. For more information on the publication, you can download it for free here: https://benthamopen.com/FULLTEXT/TOFAMSJ-9-21 or contact Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold at the Virtual Reality Medical Center. Wiederhold BK, Miller I, Wiederhold MD. Virtual Reality Smoking Cessation–Designed for Teens, by Teens. The Open Family Studies Journal. 2017 Jul 31;9(1).

Virtual Reality Pain Distraction in Feminine-Specific Surgical Procedures

Partnering with researchers Jose Luis Mosso Vasquez from Panamerican University School of Medicine and Veronica Lara Vaca of Hospital de Ginecología y Obstetricia Número 4 in Mexico City, Mexico, Interactive Media Institute and Virtual Reality Medical Center studied virtual reality (VR) pain distraction during gynecological surgery. Gynecological surgeries are often sources of stress for women, causing higher pain both during and after the surgery. As a supplement to traditional anesthesia, VR helps to distract patients from pain by showing them immersive and interactive virtual environments, taking their mind off of the surgical procedure and the pain associated with it.   Of the 44 participants in this study, half received VR pain distraction, while the other half received no pain distraction method. The results indicated statistically significant differences in pain perception between the groups, but physiological measurements were less determinable. Overall, this study highlights the need for interventions to reduce stress and pain during feminine-specific medical procedures. To inquire about this study, please contact Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold at the Virtual Reality Medical Center (frontoffice@vrphobia.com).     To access the full text: https://synergypublishers.com/downloads/sruv5a2/   Vasquez JM, Vaca VL, Wiederhold BK, Miller I, Wiederhold MD. Virtual reality pain distraction during gynecological surgery—A report of 44 cases. Surgical Research Updates. 2017. https://synergypublishers.com/downloads/sruv5a2/

Medical products

Injury Creation Science (ICS) Kit

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To help medical personnel training for war to overcome the shock effect of trauma work while also sharpening their medical skills, the Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) conceptualized and developed Injury Creation Science (ICS), a suite of wearable simulated wounds.

ICS very realistically replicates a number of battlefield injuries such as eviscerations, blast injuries, penetrations, and burns. A selection of these wounds are now available in a portable, ruggedized kit designed for battlefield trauma training. The ICS Simple Kit allows for the application of prosthetic entry, exit, and shrapnel wounds for live training exercises. ICS is based on principles of surgical simulation to enhance medical training, yet it is fundamentally different from computer and mannequin-based models, which present technical challenges and compromised realism.

The goal of our trauma training program is to provide immersive training that not only simulates injuries but allows combat medics to practice actual medical procedures common to the battlefield.

The next generation kit  (Dynamic Kit) will include the materials required to train emergency medical personnel in performing a cricothyrotomy and chest tube insertion and managing dynamic bleeding wounds. The Simple Kit was validated during extensive factory testing and a training exercise at the University of Florida (UF) Center for Simulation Education and Safety Research (CSESaR). Each kit includes 76 prosthetic appliances of the same skin tone along with the peripheral items required (e.g. adhesive, remover, makeup, simulated blood, application supplies, etc.). ICS is compatible with modeling injuries on human actors, patient simulators, and stand-alone devices.

This project is supported by funding from U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) and Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC).

VR Products – VR Flight

Vr Flight | Pain Management | PTSD

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Moments after take off, the passenger hears the captain’s voice over the intercom. While listening to his reassuring tone, the passenger looks out the window to his left. He witnesses clouds passing by, the slight bounce in the plane’s wing, and the sun following in the horizon.

VRMC’s VR Flight simulation provides the user with all of these experiences and more. Sitting on actual commercial airplane seats modeled with a built-in 1500 watt linear motor, the user can feel fully immersed from the virtual take off to even thunderstorms. How is this possible? The linear motor, when triggered by audio signals from a 2100 watt amplifier, allows the subject to feel both the rough turbulence of storms and the light vibrations of cruising. Finally, with the inclusion of surround sound, the VR Flight simulation can command the visual, audio, and interactive aspects of the flight experience in the safety of a clinic.

System Components

VR Station

  • MS Windows XP Compatible PC (Desktop or Laptop)
  • Head Mounted Display
  • Tracker
  • Joypad

Physio Station

  • MS Windows XP Compatible PC (Desktop or Laptop)
  • Physiological Monitoring Device

*Platform set up available
– Airplane Seats
– Subwoofer System

Contact us at frontoffice@vrphobia.com if you wish to purchase.

Academic Books

Academic Books:

 

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Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine, Volume 1, 2003
Advanced Technologies in the Behavioral, Social and Neurosciences
By Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Giuseppe Riva, PhD, MS, MA 

 

ARCTT is a peer-reviewed journal covering a wide variety of topics of interest to the mental health, neuroscience, and rehabilitation communities. The mission of ARCTT is to provide systematic, periodic examinations of scholarly advances in the field of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine through novel experimental clinical studies or critical authoritative reviews. It is directed to healthcare providers and researchers who are interested in the applications of advanced media for improving the delivery and efficacy of mental healthcare and rehabilitative services. This first Volume of ARCTT offers the reader a collection of 15 of the best manuscripts from the 2003 CyberTherapy Conference. It offers critical reviews, evaluation studies, original research, and clinical observations as well as includes all abstracts from the 2003 conference.

 

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Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine, Volume 2, 2004
Interactive Media in Training and Therapeutic Interventions
By Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA , Giuseppe Riva, PhD, MS, MA

 

ARCTT is a peer-reviewed journal covering a wide variety of topics of interest to the mental health, neuroscience, and rehabilitation communities. The mission of ARCTT is to provide systematic, periodic examinations of scholarly advances in the field of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine through novel experimental clinical studies or critical authoritative reviews.

It is directed to healthcare providers and researchers who are interested in the applications of advanced media for improving the delivery and efficacy of mental healthcare and rehabilitative services.

This second volume of the Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine (ARCTT) offers an even more extensive selection of manuscritps than the previous years. The editors-in-cheif, Drs. Brenda K. Wiederhold and Giuseppe Riva, have included 17 from the area of critical reviews, evaluation studies, original research and critical observations as well as all the abstracts from the 2004 CyberTherapy Conference.

 

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Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine, Volume 3, 2005

A Decade of Virtual Reality
By Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Giuseppe Riva, PhD, MS, MA,
Alex H. Bullinger, MD, MBA 

 

ARCTT is a peer-reviewed journal covering a wide variety of topics of interest to the mental health, neuroscience, and rehabilitation communities. The mission of ARCTT is to provide systematic, periodic examinations of scholarly advances in the field of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine through novel experimental clinical studies or critical authoritative reviews. It is directed to healthcare providers and researchers who are interested in the applications of advanced media for improving the delivery and efficacy of mental healthcare and rehabilitative services. This first Volume of ARCTT offers the reader a collection of 28 of the best manuscripts from the 2005 CyberTherapy Conference. It offers critical reviews, evaluation studies, original research, and clinical observations as well as includes all abstracts from the 2005 conference.

 

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CyberTherapy Conference Archives 1996-2005
A Collection of all abstracts from the past 10 years of CyberTherapy
By Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA 

 

A decade ago, CyberTherapy, then still in its infancy, only existed as a specialized Virtual Reality and Behavioral Healthcare Symposium at the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality (MMVR) Conference. At that first session, Dr. Ralph Lamson presented a small study on virtual reality (VR) exposure for treatment of acrophobia in ten participants. It is now clear that in 1996, we had only begun to realize what promise might lie ahead for both VR technology and the CyberTherapy Conference. Much has changed over the past ten years and we have now tapped further into VRMIs™ potential than many of us could have ever imagined. Today, researchers from around the world are busy completing hundreds of trials, applying VR for such varied disorders as Anxiety, Eating Disorders and Obesity, Addictions, Erectile Dysfunction, Autism and Schizophrenia. In addition, VR for Neurorehabilitation and Physical Rehabilitation has shown definite success, as has VR for other such diverse areas as Pain Distraction (both acute and chronic), Education, Training, and Physical Disabilities.

I am proud to report that as VRMIs™ use in Behavioral Healthcare has grown, so has the CyberTherapy Conference. What began as a specialized symposium at MMVR concerned mainly with conceptual matters, has now grown into the largest program on controlled clinical trials of VR and other advanced technologies in the areas of behavioral healthcare, rehabilitation, disabilities, education, and training.
To celebrate a decade of Virtual Reality Research, the CyberTherapy Archives serves as a collection of all abstracts from the past ten years.

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Virtual Reality Resources

By Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA 

 

We, at the Interactive Media Institute, realized early on that it was relatively difficult for professionals wanting to break into the Virtual Reality (VR) field to locate relevant information. While the material was out there, there was no clear organizational structure or database to link it. To solve this problem, we have put together Virtual Reality Resources, a relevant compilation for researchers and clinicians alike.

Virtual Reality Resources offers a clear overview of the advantages of using VR for Cognitive-Behavioral, Neuropsychological, and Physical Assessment and Intervention Applications. Further, it includes pertinent logistical information on such diverse topics as Basic Cost/Benefit questions, CRISP Grantees, necessary technology, and significant websites. Finally, the selected bibliography is an excellent guide for anyone looking for a deeper understanding of what scientific manuscripts have been published and what work still needs to be done.

We are confident that this collection will not only advance your personal knowledge, but through its clear organization and accessibility will aid in promoting the VR field as a whole.

 

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Virtual Reality Therapy for Anxiety Disorders : 
Advances in Evaluation and Treatment
By Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA and Mark D. Wiederhold, MD, PhD

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder diagnosed by primary care physicians, but they are particularly challenging to treat, often requiring long-term therapy. In vivo exposure and de-sensitization to the anxiety-provoking scenario are usually effective treatments, but they present a number of practical difficulties for both therapist and patient.

Virtual Reality Therapy for Anxiety Disorders explores how the latest virtual reality interventions can be used to treat patients with anxiety disorders. Virtual reality therapy enables the patient to experience a realistic, yet carefully controlled exposure to an anxiety-provoking scenario, in the therapist’s own office. While virtual reality environments were initially quite costly and demanded powerful computers, their price has decreased of late, making this form of treatment an intriguing option for therapists.

The authors, who are themselves experienced VR therapists, provide detailed guidelines on how to conduct VR treatment with patients suffering from various anxiety disorders. They provide not only an overview of the equipment used and the basic principles of treatment, but also discussion of virtual reality therapy for specific disorders including panic disorder and agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, fear of flying or driving, claustrophobia, arachnophobia, and fear of medical procedures.

 

Tips and caveats are provided, making this book important reading for therapists interested in exploring an exciting new therapy modality.arctt06.jpg

 

Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine, Volume 4, 2006
Virtual Healing: Designing Reality
By Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Giuseppe Riva, PhD, MS, MA,
Stephane Bouchard, PhD

 

ARCTT is a peer-reviewed journal covering a wide variety of topics of interest to the mental health, neuroscience, and rehabilitation communities. The mission of ARCTT is to provide systematic, periodic examinations of scholarly advances in the field of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine through novel experimental clinical studies or critical authoritative reviews. It is directed to healthcare providers and researchers who are interested in the applications of advanced media for improving the delivery and efficacy of mental healthcare and rehabilitative services.

 

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Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine, Volume 5, 2007
Transforming Healthcare Through Technology
By Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Giuseppe Riva, PhD, MS, MA,
Stephane Bouchard, PhD

 

ARCTT is a peer-reviewed journal covering a wide variety of topics of interest to the mental health, neuroscience, and rehabilitation communities. The mission of ARCTT is to provide systematic, periodic examinations of scholarly advances in the field of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine through novel experimental clinical studies or critical authoritative reviews. It is directed to healthcare providers and researchers who are interested in the applications of advanced media for improving the delivery and efficacy of mental healthcare and rehabilitative services.

Books

Featuring VRMC Patient Resources:

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Conquering Panic, Anxiety, &Phobias
Achieving Success Through Virtual Reality and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

By Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA

This book is written as a starting point toward helping the large portion of our population that suffers from anxiety disorders to overcome their fears and control their anxiety. It is a resource to enable those suffering from anxiety to take control of their lives and become an active participant in their own recovery.

This book is essentially divided into two parts: a discussion of anxiety and its physical and emotional effects on sufferers. While Virtual Reality Therapy is described, its use is not necessary in order to follow the suggestions in this book. The lessons and worksheets included can help in a variety of areas, not just anxiety, but anger, mild depression, and feelings of helplessness.

 

 

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Expose Yourself! San Diego

A Guide for Healthcare Provides and Their Patients
By Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA

Expose Yourself! is a tool to help those who are attempting to overcome specific phobias with self-guided exposure therapy. Along with information about anxiety disorders and Cognitive-Behavioral techniques, this exposure companion contains hundreds of suggestions for possible exposure hierarchies and situations. The book includes photographs and descriptions of a variety of exposure options around San Diego County, but this book can be used for exposure inspiration in any location. Future volumes will be available for different locations around the world.

This book is an invaluable guide for those using it as an adjunct to therapy or for those attempting to overcome their fears on their own.

 

 

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Virtual Healers
Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA 

Virtual Reality in the Mental Health arena is barely over a decade old. Because VR is still such a young and focused field, the members of its community have come together as a tight-knit family.

In Virtual Healers, Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, herself a pioneer of VR, sits down in casual one-on-one interviews with more than a dozen of the top researchers of this select group. As a fellow scientist and friend, she allows the reader a rare, in-depth look inside their world. Along with her, you will discover the answers to how these remarkable men and women came to the VR field, what successes and set-backs they have experienced, what keeps them going, as well as how this technology has affected them both personally and professionally.

Virtual Healers is a must-read for the general reader as well as for any healthcare providers who have experienced VR treatment, are considering it, or have an interest in how advanced technologies are shaping the future of health care.

 

 

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Virtual Healing

Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA 

Along with aliens and time travel, virtual reality (VR) is often thought of as a science fiction dream. Though it was developed nearly five decades ago, the use of VR in the private sector, particularly in the field of patient care, has become a possibility only in the past decade. As programmers are creating more detailed and interactive environments, the rapid advancement of technology combined with decreasing costs has turned VR into a promising alternative to traditional therapies. VR allows therapists to create a safe, low-cost environment in which they can easily modify the speed and intensity of the therapeutic process. With this ability to tailor the virtual experience to each specific patient’s need, the necessity to educate the patient has become increasingly significant.

Virtual Healing fulfills that need. In twelve clear chapters, Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, one of the pioneers in the use of VR, plainly discusses the application of VR for Specific Phobias, Posttraumatic Stress Disorders, Panic Disorder, Eating Disorders and Obesity, Pain Distraction, Education and Training, Nicotine Addictions, Physical and Neurological Rehabilitation, Erectile Dysfunction, and Schizophrenia. She will explain the symptoms of each disorder and how VR can help. Further, the reader will meet researchers from around the world who are working to advance the use of VR treatment, and hear from patients who have undergone the process. It is Dr. Wiederhold’s hope that this book may serve as a source of information as well as comfort.

 

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Virtual Reflections

By Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA 

There have been thousands of volumes published throughout history containing famous quotations. Many of these are well organized, comprehensive, and extremely helpful for researchers. However, often these books are unwieldy, and the task of finding quotes relevant to a specific purpose is frankly not feasible for the casual reader.

This is where Virtual Reflections is different from other quote compilations. I have selected the quotes and passages included here to be tailored specifically for those who are attempting to overcome panic, anxiety or phobias. In addition, many of you may find this book useful if you are experiencing feelings of mild depression, or simply need an outward source of inspiration in your life. My goal is not to have this book be a substitute for treatment, but instead to have it serve you as an aid as you progress along your journey towards recovery. My hope is that it may be a source of comfort and strength, bolstering your spirit and helping to ease those difficult moments you may encounter as you begin working towards overcoming your anxiety.

Academic Publications

IMI-E and its U.S. counterparts are publishing a scientific journal and have published several books for academics:

 

NATO Science for Peace and Security Series 

 

VRMI and its U.S. counterparts have published a variety of books suitable for the general public.
Proceeds from your purchase go to support the non-profit organizations for research and education in the field of advanced technologies and mental health.
Please contact us at frontoffice@vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267 or visit www.vrphobia.com to order.

 

CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation Magazine

 

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Description

CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation Magazine is published quarterly by the Virtual Reality Medical Institute (Brussels) and Interactive Media Institute (California, USA). The magazine explores the uses of advanced technologies for therapy, training, education, prevention and rehabilitation. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, psychiatry, psychology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, neurorehabilitation, oncology, obesity, eating disorders, and autism, among many others.

C&R magazine is the official voice of the International Association of CyberPsychology, Training & Rehabilitation (iACToR) (http://www.iactor.ning.com).

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C&R 8(1)

C&R 7(1)

C&R 6(2)

C&R 6(1)

C&R 5(2)

C&R 5(1)

C&R 4(4)

C&R 4(3)

C&R 4(2)

C&R 4(1)

C&R 3(3)

C&R 3(2)

C&R 3(1)

C&R 2(2)

C&R 2(1)

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General

General publications

VRMI and its U.S. counterparts have published a variety of books suitable and highly recommended for the general public.

 

Proceeds from your purchase go to support the non-profit organizations for research and education in the field of advanced technologies and mental health. Please contact us at frontoffice@vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267 to order or visit www.vrphobia.com.

Past projects

Areas of Specialization in Research | Publications

Current projects

Recently completed research projects

VRMI served as the Dissemination and Exploitation Workpackage Leader for the INTERSTRESS grant funded by the ICT for Health and Well-Being Unit of DG-CNECT, European Commission.

VRMI was also in charge of performing the Marketing Trial for the project and served as a Clinical Partner.  The project was complete in February 2015.

INTERSTRESS Tests Technology Solution to Stress

What if lowering your stress level was as easy and as much fun as playing a video game? What if all of the work was automated for you, with reminders on your mobile phone? What if the system that achieved this was so smart, it changed the program the second you changed your behavior?

This is the vision of a new project funded by ICT for Health, European Commission. Called Interreality in the Management and Treatment of Stress-Related Disorders, or INTERSTRESS for short, the project aims to design, develop, and test an advanced ICT-based solution for the assessment and treatment of psychological stress.

The project’s creators define “interreality” as a hybrid, closed-loop, empowering experience bridging both physical and virtual worlds into one seamless reality. In other words, behavior in the physical world will influence the virtual world experience, and behavior in the virtual world will influence the real-world experience. Clinical use of interreality is based on a closed-loop concept that involves the use of technology for assessing, adjusting, and/or moderating the emotional regulation of the individual. This is achieved by increasing the individual’s coping skills and appraisal of the environment based upon a comparison of the individual’s behavioural and physiologic response with a training or performance criterion. The project will provide a proof of concept of the proposed system with clinical validation.

The objectives of the project may read like something out of science fiction, but the researchers want to educate the public that these objectives are attainable based on scientific fact:

  • Quantitative and objective assessment of symptoms using biosensors and behavioural analysis
  • Decision support for treatment planning through data fusion and detection algorithms
  • Provision of warnings and motivating feedback to improve compliance and long-term outcome

 

These goals will be achieved through the novel use of technology:

  • 3D shared virtual world role-playing exercises in which players interact with each other, using immersive technology in the healthcare centre augmented by non-immersive technology in the home setting
  • Biosensors and activity sensors to transmit data from the real world to the virtual world, tracking emotional, health, and activity status of the individual, thereby influencing the individual’s experience in the virtual world
  • Mobile phone applications to transmit data from the virtual world to the real world

The project kick-off meeting was 19 March 2010 at Istituto Auxologico Italiano in Milan, Italy. The project will run for 36 months.

Project Coordinator:  Andrea Gaggioli
andrea.gaggioli@auxologico.it
Ph/fax: +39-02-619112892

Belgian Contact:  Brenda Wiederhold

b@vrphobia.eu

+1 858 642 0267 (telephone)
Partners:

Istituto Auxologico Italiano – (Italy)
FIMI  – (Italy)
Virtual Reality & Multimedia Park – (Italy)
Università di Pisa – (Italy)
Create-NET – (Italy)
Centre for Research and Technology Hellas – (Greece)
Starlab Barcelona  – (Spain) 
Universität Passau – (Germany) 
Virtual Reality Medical Institute – (Belgium) 
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche – (Italy)

 

 

INTERSTRESS is a European-funded project Instrument:  CP —- ICT Grant Number FP7-247685

Careers

Careers

VRMI currently has only Non-paid internships available to students still enrolled in an academic program.  

It also has Non-paid Volunteer positions available through its affiliated non-profit, Interactive Media Institute.  To inquire, please write to us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com

We appreciate your interest in helping us:

1.  Provide services to those in need 

2.  Inform and educate the general public, academic, industry, and government about how technology can help transform healthcare

 

 

Working at VRMI

Interested in working at VRMI? We are looking for talented, innovative, results-oriented individuals who value the highest standards of performance and excellence in servicing our industry.

We invite you to use the following guide to help you search for jobs in the areas of greatest interest to you. Thank you for interest in VRMI!

Internship and Research Opportunities

Product Development:
Product Development Research – Non-paid Internship opportunity for those enrolled in an academic program

MBA Intern – Non-paid Internship opportunity for those enrolled in an academic program

Clinical Research:
Post-Doctoral Experimental Psychologist – Non-paid Internship opportunity for those enrolled in an academic program
Research Associate – Non-paid Internship opportunity for those enrolled in an academic program
Statistical – Non-paid Internship opportunity for those enrolled in an academic program

Grants:
Grant Writing –  Non-paid Internship opportunity for those enrolled in an academic program

Technical Writer – Non-paid Internship opportunity for those enrolled in an academic program

Graphics:
Graphic Artist – 
Non-paid Internship opportunity for those enrolled in an academic program

Software Engineering:
Website Developer – Non-paid Internship opportunity for those enrolled in an academic program
Video Editing and Production –
 Non-paid Internship opportunity for those enrolled in an academic program

Contact

Organisation

Contact person

 

Alternatively please contact us directly:  Please note:  Our telephone and email has changed, effective 1 January 2017

United States Corporate Headquarters:

San Diego, California
Virtual Reality Medical Center
6540 Lusk Blvd., Suite C115
San Diego, CA 92121
Telephone:+1 858 642 0267 (answering service)

frontoffice@vrphobia.com

Facebook:  VirtualRealityMedicalCenter

YouTube:  VirtualMedical

Follow us on Twitter
http://twitter.com/VirtualBrenda

Clinical Offices in California:

Scripps Memorial Hospital Campus
H.M. Poole Building
9834 Genesee Avenue, Suite 427
La Jolla, CA 92037
Telephone:+1 858 642 0267 (answering service)

frontoffice@vrphobia.com

 

6540 Lusk Boulevard, Suite C115
San Diego, CA 92121
Email:  frontoffice @ vrphobia.com
Telephone:  +1 858 642 0267 (answering service)

1050 B Avenue #B
Coronado, CA 92118

Europe Main Headquarters:

Virtual Reality Medical Institute

Prekelindenlaan 64 bus 5

BE 1200 Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe

Belgium

 

E-Mail: frontoffice@vrphobia.com

Follow us on Twitter VirtualBrenda

Check us out on YouTube at youtube.com/VirtualMedical

Facebook:  VirtualRealityMedicalCenter

China Main Headquarters:

Qingdao CyberCare Technology Co. Ltd.

153 Zhuzhou Road, Bldg 1, Suite 1702

Laoshan District, Qingdao

China

frontoffice@vrphobia.com

Pain Distraction

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu. If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Virtual reality distraction can help lessen anxiety and cope with pain, both chronic and procedural, and can be created to provide leisure activities for those not able to do typical leisure activities (i.e. those confined to a wheelchair, those with breathing difficulties, etc.). An optional head mount display (HMD) is equipped with a head tracker that detects the patient’s head rotations and position while navigating through the virtual world. In some types of medical procedures where the patient is unable to use a flat panel display and mouse comfortably, the HMD provides a viable alternative for administering VR therapy. Real-time Biofeedback provides the therapist with all of the patient’s vitals, including heart rate, respiration, skin conductance, temperature, electroencephalogram (EEG), and electrocardiogram (ECG).

1. Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest VR world was originally designed to provide pain distraction for people coping with chronic pain, yet it can easily be adapted for other pain distraction applications as well. The setting of this virtual environment was created to elicit relaxation and enjoyment. Novel stimuli are presented to facilitate pain distraction. The scope and complexity of this VR world is suitable for VR sessions of long duration.

This colorful fantasy world consists of an enchanted forest with waterfalls, streams, tropical fauna, and man-made structures such as bridges, boats, and huts. Ambient music mimicking sounds of nature serves as an auditory backdrop for exploration. Whimsical creatures such as pink deer and mystical spirits inhabit the forest. Participants begin their journey of exploration through the virtual forest by strolling along the grassy planes and across the bridges. A flowing river runs throughout the forest. Next to the river is a small dock where the user can wait to board a row boat that takes the user across the forest. Users can navigate the VR world freely.

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2. Dream Castle

The Dream Castle VR world was originally designed to provide pain distraction for people coping with nausea and other side effects of chemo therapy, yet it can easily be adapted for other pain distraction applications as well. The setting of this virtual environment was created to facilitate relaxation and enjoyment. Novel stimuli are presented to facilitate pain distraction.

Exploration of the Dream Castle VR world begins in front of the castle’s entrance, with an expansive lawn and three large buildings. To the left and right of the main entrance are art galleries that house intriguing paintings and sculptures, some of which are interactive. Various unique objects are placed throughout the art galleries and castle. When the user navigates further into the building structures, he/she encounters a house with numerous rooms, each having something radically novel to view. Special effects include a bubble room, a snow room, reflective walls, and bouncing balls. The bubble room was developed so that the bubbles burst in midair.  The snow room contains reflective walls and furniture that produce a feeling of icy chilliness. There is also a room full of bouncing balls that were animated using accurate physical dynamics. Outside, there is a balcony and garden, both with swimming pools that the user can jump into. The music and lighting of the Dream Castle VR world reflect the unique mood and features of each area. For example, bedrooms have warmer lighting hues and the grand ballroom has a brighter, more vibrant lighting scheme. The galleries were created to contain particularly dim lighting with spotlights on each of the art pieces so that the artwork is always visible. Outdoors sound effects include crickets, chirping birds, and flowing water. Inside, classical music plays in one of the galleries and a more modern piece plays in the other gallery. These choices reflect the style of artwork displayed in each gallery. Users can navigate the VR world freely.

3. South Pole Fantasy

pd03.jpgThe South Pole Fantasy VR world was originally designed to provide pain distraction for people coping with acute and procedural pain, such as certain dental procedures, yet it can easily be adapted for other pain distraction applications as well.

There are two main parts of the virtual environment: a snowy outdoor landscape and an ice castle. Outside is a snow-covered hilly terrain. Fog was incorporated in the setting for added realism and a mysterious quality to the game that allures the user. The sky was created with a variety of slightly different colors and moving clouds for enhanced visual effect. Constant snow fall also enhances the feeling of the environment. Interspersed throughout the snowy landscape and within the ice castle are virtual penguins trapped in ice cubes. Users free the trapped penguins by clicking the mouse and shooting fire snowballs at the ice cubes.

The ice castle is three stories high with reflective ice crystals, a captivating water fall, several bridges and radiant laser beams. Many light sources inside the castle and different levels of the brightness, color and intensity of the lights were used to imitate the reflective appearance of real ice, yet provided suitable lighting for easy user navigation.  Moving textures are included to look like laser beams and water falls. Sound effects include flowing water at the waterfalls, crunching snow as the user walks around, and squawking of the penguins when they are freed. The music evokes a calm and soothing response, as the cadence of the music matches the navigational speed in the VR and creates a relaxing rhythm for the user. The background music nicely correlates to the icy scenery and enhances the feeling of being inside a chilly world

PTSD: Clinical Treatment Protocols

PTSDIn the recent past, virtual reality has attracted much attention as a potential method for psychotherapy to treat patients with phobias, addictions, anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Various techniques based on virtual reality—such as virtual reality immersion therapy (VRIT), and virtual reality graded exposure therapy (VR-GET)—have been researched and have proven to be very effective.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Exposure Therapy
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop when a person goes through one or more traumatic events such as sexual assault, serious injury, narrowly escaping death, domestic violence or watching a fellow soldier die on the battlefield.
People with PTSD typically suffer from disturbing recurring flashbacks, hyperarousal, bad dreams, frightening thoughts, emotional numbness and strong feelings of depression, guilt and worry.
Exposure therapy, a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) technique, is the most widely employed tool to help victims manage PTSD symptoms. By helping patients to confront—rather than avoid—the memory of the traumatic event, exposure therapy techniques support the ability to overcome anxieties and fears.
Using other relaxation techniques, victims slowly gain control over responses to traumatic events and learn to cope in a much better way. Exposure therapy has been found to be very effective in treating PTSD, and has a high success rate in treating patients with specific phobias.
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
Virtual reality, with its advanced visual immersion devices, specially programmed computers, and three-dimensional artificially created virtual environments, takes exposure therapy to a whole new level—allowing the patient to confront a traumatic experience in a safe and controlled manner.
The most extensive research regarding the applications for VR-based therapy for treating posttraumatic stress disorder was funded by the Office of Naval Research, starting in 2005. This initiative was part of a program to develop new technologies to assist combat veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan in managing PTSD symptoms.
Using new software, hardware, simulations, physiologic monitoring (biofeedback), skills training and therapeutic methods based on Virtual Reality, VRMC (Virtual Reality Medical Institute’s California-based affiliate), designed,  developed, tested and clinically validated VR and biofeedback in the first randomized controlled clinical trial, carried out at Balboa Naval Hospital and Camp Pendleton Marine Base in Southern California.  The development began after holding focus groups with returning military men and women, to bring in the content and cues that were most important to them as the end users.
The advantage of this VR-based Graded Exposure Therapy (VR-GET) is that it helps patients who find it difficult to identify or talk about a traumatic event—which impacts the ability to learn the required skills to cope with a number of anxiety-inducing situations.
In this setting, the combat veteran relives the traumatic episode in a simulation that captures the essential elements of the event—all in a safe and controlled manner—while trying to recognize and manage any excessive autonomic arousal and cognitive reactivity.
VRMC’s  VR system and protocols are now in use in active duty and veteran’s hospital facilities throughout the U.S. as well as in Poland and Croatia, to serve coalition troops.
Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services.  If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu.
If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

PDF available here: PTSD: Clinical Treatment Protocols

Stress management

Psychological stress occurs when environmental demands exceed an individual’s perception of his or her adaptive capacity. Stressful experiences may be thought of as person-environment transactions, with outcomes being dependent on the impact of the external stimulus. This is mediated by:

(1) the person’s appraisal of the stimulus: when faced with a stimulus, a person evaluates the potential threat (primary appraisal). The primary appraisal is the judgment about the significance of a stimulus as stressful, positive, controllable, challenging or irrelevant;

(2) the personal, social and cultural resources available: facing a significant stimulus, a secondary appraisal follows, which is an assessment of the individual’s coping resources and options. Secondary appraisals address what one can do about the situation;

(3) the efficacy of the coping efforts: if required by the appraisal process the individual starts a problem management phase aimed at regulation of the external stimulus.

Extreme levels of stress can have a negative influence on one’s professional life as well as causing disruptions in both the social and personal life of individuals. Stress can also contribute to different physiological and psychological disorders, such as burnout, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, withdrawal symptoms, nausea, phobias, blood pressure problems, heart impairments, diabetes and other chronic ailments.

Repeated and early exposure to stress, above all in persons with a genetic disposition, as well as individuals with a high level of trait anxiety, may result in a higher likelihood for developing anxiety. Overexcitation and deprivation can influence the affective system and may induce changes in the emotional circuitry of the brain that can contribute to stress-related psychopathology. Associations between psychological stress and disease have been established, particularly for anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Stressful events influence the pathogenesis of physical diseases by causing continuous negative affective states (potentially leading to feelings of anxiety and depression), which in turn exert direct effects on biological processes, activating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (HPA) and the sympathetic adrenal medullary system (SAM) or behavioral patterns that influence disease risks. Exposures to chronic stress are considered the most toxic ones because they are most likely to result in long-term or permanent changes in the emotional, physiological, and behavioral responses that influence susceptibility and the disease course. This kind of stress can lead to a loss of productivity and to mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Additionally, without treatment, burnout may result as a long-term consequence.

Stress management therapy can help to overcome the negative  effects of stress. Various techniques may be used, including relaxation, visualization, biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) methods. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews states that the most validated approach for both stress management and stress treatment is CBT. Typically, this includes individual interventions (10 to 15 sessions) interwoven with didactics. It includes in-session didactic materials and experiential exercises, and out-of-session assignments (practicing relaxation exercises and self-monitoring of stress responses). The intervention focuses on learning more effective ways to cope with daily stressors and optimization of one’s own use of personal and social resources.

The intervention also encourages emotional expression, countering doubt appraisals with a sense of confidence by means of cognitive restructuring, and honing skills in anxiety reduction (i.e. progressive muscle relaxation, abdominal breathing or relaxing imagery). The CBT package thus includes both problem-focused (for example, resource optimization and better planning) and emotion-focused (for example, relaxation training, use of emotional support) coping strategies.

Nevertheless, the Cochrane database underlines that further clinical research is needed to fine-tune existing protocols and fully exploit CBT’s clinical potential.

The difficulty with stress assessment, prevention and treatment is that it is so very personal. Stress-related disorders cannot be explained simply on the basis of the terrible things that happen to people. These disorders depend a great deal on how the person experiencing a stressor is put together, psychologically and physically. So the focus for assessment, prediction and treatment has to be the situational experience of the individual person.

posWith this in mind, the INTERSTRESS project, a 3-year research study funded under the FP7 program by DG-CONNECT, European Commission, was completed in February 2014.  INTERSTRESS addressed the limitations of existing CBT protocols for treatment and prevention of psychological stress and burnout.

In the standard CBT protocol for stress management, imagination and/or exposure evoke emotions, and the meaning of the associated feelings can be changed through reflection and relaxation. The INTERSTRESS project went a step beyond:  allowing participants (school teachers and nurses) to control experiences that evoke emotions, resulting in meaningful new feelings, which can then be considered and ultimately changed through reflection and relaxation.  Allowing the participants to be actively involved, with a measure of control, helped to improve self-confidence and self-efficacy.

Although traditional CBT focuses directly on modifying dysfunctional thoughts through a rational and deliberate process, INTERSTRESS focused on modification through a more contextualized, experiential process. In the INTERSTRESS training, individuals were actively involved in the learning process, experiencing stressful situations reproduced in virtual environments and reflecting on the stress level in their daily life with the help of advanced technology, Virtual Reality, Smartphones and biofeedback sensors.

 

pos2From a clinical point of view, the INTERSTRESS solution offers the following advantages to existing traditional CBT protocols for stress management:

(1) integrated and quantitative assessment of the user’s stress level using biosensors and behavioral analysis: the level of stress is continuously assessed in the virtual world by recording the participant’s behavioral and emotional status;

(2) provision of motivating feedback to improve self-awareness, compliance and long-term outcomes. (Participants receive feedback of their emotional and physical state to improve their appraisal and coping skills in an engaging and motivating fashion.)

 

Virtual Reality Medical Institute, VRMI, was the Dissemination Exploitation Workpackage Leader for the INTERSTRESS Project as well as a Clinical Partner and leader of the Marketing Trials.  VRMI is now proud to announce that we are the first provider of the INTERSTRESS solution in a private practice setting, proving that positive research achieved through valuable European Commission funding can be successfully translated into real world settings, helping individuals achieve relief long after the project is complete.  VRMI and its affiliates offer these services in California and China.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services.  If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu.

If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often persists into adulthood. ADHD is a chronic disorder that can negatively impair many aspects of daily life, including home, school, work, and interpersonal relationships. To avoid misdiagnosing individuals who show only isolated difficulties, at least 6 inattentive symptoms and/or 6 hyperactive/impulsive symptoms must be present to possibly qualify for an ADHD diagnosis. In addition, these symptoms must have been present for at least 6 months to a degree that is considered inappropriate for the individual’s age.adhd1.jpg

There are three primary subtypes:

ADHD – Inattentive Type

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes.
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention.
  • Does not appear to listen.
  • Struggles to follow through on instructions.
  • Has difficulty with organization.
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort.
  • Loses things.
  • Is easily distracted.
  • Is forgetful in daily activities.

 

ADHD – Hyperactive Type

  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair.
  • Has difficulty remaining seated.
  • Runs about or climbs excessively.
  • Difficulty engaging in activities quietly.
  • Acts as if driven by a motor.
  • Talks excessively.
  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
  • Difficulty waiting or taking turns.
  • Interrupts or intrudes upon others.

 

ADHD – Combined Type

  • Individual meets both sets of inattention and hyperactive/impulsive criteria.

adhd2.jpgMultimodal treatment is the most effective form of treatment for children and adolescents with ADHD. This treatment approach includes multiple elements that work together and support each other. These various interventions or “modes” of treatment reinforce each other and produce the best outcomes for children and adolescents with ADHD. The elements of the multimodal treatment approach include:

  • parent and child education about diagnosis and treatment
  • specific behavior management techniques
  • stimulant medication
  • appropriate educational program and supports

It would be incorrect to think that one intervention, by itself, is sufficient. Although an individual child might respond to one intervention more fully than another, these should not be understood as “either/or” options.

Virtual reality therapy may be very useful in treating ADHD. Virtual reality technology allows the client to role-play in a virtual classroom where different situations can be practiced and then discussed. The therapist can work with the client to improve their concentration skills, as the client is able to practice concentrating on specific tasks while different distractions are introduced. The client is also able to interact with the teacher and classmates, allowing him or her to develop social skills and learn to stay on task.

adhd3.jpgAs ADHD often requires a multimodal treatment program, virtual reality therapy is easily combined with other therapies to provide the most comprehensive and effective intervention plan. Attentional tests imbedded in the VR world can be given to the child prior to beginning therapy. This same assessment can be repeated to provide a precise measurement of treatment progress.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu. If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Flying Anticipatory Anxiety

flyinganti1.jpgSurveys estimate that fear of flying exists in 10-20% of the population. Flying anticipatory anxiety is a specific flying phobia that is

characterized by marked distress prior to the actual flight. The person may begin to feel anxious months before a trip, as they anticipate the actual flight and “things” which may happen take the form of distressing thoughts. These thoughts may considerably affect one’s wellbeing and personal relationships, and may also compromise one’s efficiency in daily tasks, causing sleeplessness and irritability even months prior to the actual date of the flight.

Flying anticipatory anxiety is not exclusively associated with the act of flying and may result from taking someone to the airport, buying a ticket, confirming a flight, waiting at the boarding lounge, packing at home, or even watching planes on TV. In these situations, the person experiences an irrational fear that something terrible will happen.

flyinganti2.jpgSomeone limited by a flying anticipatory anxiety may benefit from virtual reality therapy. Virtual reality exposure therapy places the client in a computer generated airport where they “experience” situations associated with flying. The client wears a head-mount display with small TV monitors and stereo earphones to receive both visual and auditory cues. In a controlled virtual environment, the client is able to experience an airport setting, talk with a ticket agent, pass through security checkpoints, and walk down the jetway and onto the plane. Virtual reality exposure therapy is conducted in the safety of the clinic and allows the client to slowly build their confidence without exposing themselves or others to unnecessary distress. Exploration of the virtual world can be repeated until the client is comfortable with the experience and satisfied with their response.

flyinganti3.jpgThe client is taught relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing skills, and learns about physiological responses to anxiety prior to beginning the virtual reality exposure therapy. These new skills can be used as coping techniques in both VR and eventually real life exposure.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu. If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Social Phobia

social

Social phobia, also called social anxiety, is a disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. People with social phobia have a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and of being embarrassed or humiliated by their own actions. Their fear may be so severe that it interferes with work or school – and other ordinary activities. While many people with social phobia recognize that their fear of being around people may be excessive or unreasonable, they are unable to overcome it. They often worry for days or weeks in advance of a dreaded situation.

Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation – such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others – or, in its most severe form, may be so broad that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people. Social phobia can be very debilitating – it may even keep people from going to work or school on some days. Many people with this illness have a hard time making and keeping friends.

Physical symptoms often accompany the intense anxiety of social phobia and include blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, and other symptoms of anxiety, including difficulty talking and nausea or other stomach discomfort. These visible symptoms heighten the fear of disapproval and the symptoms themselves can become an additional focus of fear. Fear of symptoms can create a vicious cycle: as people with social phobia worry about experiencing the symptoms, the greater their chances of developing the symptoms.. Social phobia often runs in families and may be accompanied by depression or alcohol dependence.

How Common Is Social Phobia?

About 3.7% of the U.S. population ages 18 to 54 – approximately 5.3 million Americans – has social phobia in any given year.
Social phobia occurs in women twice as often as in men, although a higher proportion of men seeks help for this disorder. The disorder typically begins in childhood or early adolescence and rarely develops after age 25.

What Causes Social Phobia?social1.jpg

Research to define causes of social phobia is ongoing.Some investigations implicate a small structure in the brain called the amygdala in the symptoms of social phobia. The amygdala is believed to be a central site in the brain that controls fear responses.
Animal studies are adding to the evidence that suggests social phobia can be inherited. In fact, researchers supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recently identified the site of a gene in mice that affects learned fearfulness. One line of research is investigating a biochemical basis for the disorder. Scientists are exploring the idea that heightened sensitivity to disapproval may be physiologically or hormonally based. Other researchers are investigating the environment’s influence on the development of social phobia. People with social phobia may acquire their fear from observing the behavior and consequences of others, a process called observational learning or social modeling.

What Treatments Are Available for Social Phobia?social2.jpg

Research supported by NIMH and by industry has shown that there are two effective forms of treatment available for social phobia: certain medications and a specific form of short-term psychotherapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy. Medications include antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), as well as drugs known as high-potency benzodiazepenes. Some people with a form of social phobia called performance phobia have been helped by beta-blockers, which are more commonly used to control high blood pressure.

Cognitive-behavior therapy is also very useful in treating social phobia. The central component of this treatment is exposure therapy, which involves helping patients gradually become more comfortable with situations that frighten them. The exposure process often involves three stages. The first involves introducing people to the feared situation. The second level is to increase the risk for disapproval in that situation so people build confidence that they can handle rejection or criticism. The third stage involves teaching people techniques to cope with disapproval. In this stage, people imagine their worst fear and are encouraged to develop constructive responses to their fear and perceived disapproval.

Cognitive-behavior therapy for social phobia also includes anxiety management training – for example, teaching people techniques such as deep breathing to control their levels of anxiety. Another important aspect of treatment is called cognitive restructuring, which involves helping individuals identify their misjudgments and develop more realistic expectations of the likelihood of danger in social situations.

Supportive therapy such as group therapy, or couples or family therapy to educate significant others about the disorder, is also helpful. Sometimes people with social phobia also benefit from social skills training.

What Other Illnesses Co-Occur With Social Phobia?

Social phobia can cause lowered self-esteem and depression. To try to reduce their anxiety and alleviate depression, people with social phobia may use alcohol or other drugs, which can lead to addiction. Some people with social phobia may also have other anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

* Information on this page courtesy of NIMH

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services.  If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu.
If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

School Phobia (Avoidance/Refusal)

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Historically called “school phobia,” many researchers now prefer to use the terms “school avoidance” or “school refusal” to describe children who have a pattern of avoiding or refusing to attend school. These behaviors occur in approximately 2-5 % of school-aged children.

Common signs of school phobia include:

  • Refusal to attend school
  • Creating reasons why not to go to school
  • Missing a lot of school
  • Frequent complaints about not feeling well with vague or non-specific complaints
  • Complaints of chronic physical symptoms (e.g. headaches, dizziness, nausea) that, when evaluated by a doctor, have no medical cause

 

school

Although school phobia is often derived from fear of school-related activities, it can also originate from anxiety about home issues or about being separated from a caregiver. Children who experience significant difficulty in attending school do so for different reasons and exhibit a range of behaviors.

For young children, school means spending a lot of time away from home. Not only do children miss home in the school setting, but they are faced with new experiences, challenges and pressures. School-related factors that can cause school phobia include:

  • Fear of failure
  • Teasing by other children
  • Anxieties over toileting in a public bathroom
  • A perception that teachers and other school personnel are “mean”
  • Threats of physical harm or actual physical harm
  • Existing learning difficulties or disabilities
  • Social problems
  • Unsafe or chaotic neighborhoods and schools

Non-school related causes may include:

  • Home problems or situations such as the loss of a loved one through death, divorce or relocating
  • Fear that something terrible will happen at home while they are at school
  • Difficulty returning to classroom routines as well as academic and social demands after a prolonged absence from illness or surgery
  • Preference to stay home because they can watch TV, have parental attention, or play; rather than work in school
  • Stress from transitioning (e.g. from elementary to middle school)

All of these factors may lead to the development of school phobia. Additionally, many children avoid or refuse school for a combination of reasons, further complicating treatment.

If untreated, chronic school refusal or avoidance may result in more than family distress. Academic deterioration, poor peer relationships, school or legal conflicts, and work or college avoidance may result. The extended implications of school phobia can be far reaching and, in the long term, it can lead to panic and anxiety disorders in adulthood.

The most important aspect of dealing with school phobia is to find out the underlying cause(s), which may stem from home, personal, family, or school-related issues, or a combination. Many children may have started to avoid school for one reason, but then begin to stay home for another reason. Once the cause has been identified, it is then easier to try to plan a “customized” approach to help the child. Sometimes the child feels relief just by expressing concerns about friends or school expectations. Helping the child to relax, develop better coping skills, improve social skills, using a contract and getting help with parenting or family issues are all examples of possible treatments. Several treatment plans may need to be tried.

Virtual Reality-Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may be a useful adjunctive tool in treating school phobia. The central component of this treatment is exposure therapy, which involves helping clients gradually become more comfortable with situations that frighten them. Virtual reality technology places the client in a computer-generated environment where they experience a school and classroom setting. Clients are first taught coping skills and are then placed in the VR setting. Clients can practice within this virtual world until they are comfortable with the experience and satisfied with their response.

If a multifaceted treatment approach is needed, virtual reality therapy is easily combined with other training methods to provide a comprehensive intervention plan.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu. If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Fear of Thunderstorms

Thunderstorm or other severe weather phobia is classified as a specific phobia. Severe weather phobia is the persistent and irrational fear of thunderstorms and their phenomena, such as lightning, thunder, wind, hail, and tornadoes. Each year, individuals with this disorder struggle through storms ranging from the small thundershower to the violent super cell. Summer and spring are especially difficult times for those with this phobia because storms are most severe and abundant during this time. Many watch the Weather Channel constantly or miss out on daily activities due to the threat of a storm.

Virtual Reality-enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provides an environment for clients to be exposed to these situations without common problems of loss of confidentiality or risk to personal safety. In the therapist’s office, the client is given coping and relaxation skills prior to exposure. The virtual environments allow the client to experience varying degrees of anxiety relating to weather, including rain, thunder and lightning.

The environment is under the therapist’s control, offering the choice to re-experience certain aspects of the storm on command, a situation that is impossible with in vivo (real world) exposure. Each situation can be repeated until the client is comfortable with the experience and satisfied with their response. The therapist has the ability to see and hear what the client is experiencing in the virtual world as well as to monitor physiological response. The client can exit the environment at any time, simply by removing the head mounted display. Therefore, the situation never becomes overwhelming and remains always under the client’s control.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services.  If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu.
If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Fear of Spiders

spiders2.jpg

Between 10 and 11 percent of people have a specific phobia, and approximately 4 percent of the population have arachnophobia. Like other phobias, it manifests itself as a persistent and irrational fear of the phobic stimulus, resulting in avoidance of places and situations associated with the stimulus, and overwhelming anxiety about encountering such a situation. Never knowing when one might encounter a spider may cause impairment in a variety of situations.

spiders3.jpg

If you are restricted by arachnophobia, you may benefit from virtual reality therapy. Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) places you in a computer-generated environment where you can be safely exposed to spiders, thereby reducing your anxiety in stages, at your own pace. You wear a head-mounted display with stereo earphones that immerses you in the VR environment by providing you with both visual and auditory cues.

In this type of therapy, you will be exposed to a hierarchy of phobic situations designed to reduce your anxiety in gradual increments.

This format ensures that anxiety at each level dissipates before you move to the next level.

In this way, the connection between the stimulus and the phobic response is dissolved. If an increase in anxiety does occur, you may simply return to a previous stage and repeat it until you are able to progress successfully to the next stage.

The entire process lasts 8-12 sessions on average. The graded experience might include: standing across the room from a spider, standing next to a closed jar containing a spider, holding a closed jar containing a spider, holding an open jar containing a spider, touching a spider. These steps are customized for each individual.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu. If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Fear of Needles and Blood

needle1.jpgNeedle phobia is the extreme fear and avoidance of needles associated with medical injections. Needle phobia is considered a specific phobia that affects more than 10 % of the population. It is characterized by avoidance of situations associated with medical treatments, including obtaining routine health care. The consequences of such avoidance can be exacerbation of existing medical conditions or delayed diagnosis of serious medical conditions.

The Needle Phobia VR world gives clients the opportunity to practice visiting the doctor’s office where they “experience” various situations related to receiving injections and having blood drawn. The client is gradually exposed to experiences that elicit higher levels of anxiety in careful, controlled stages.

Virtual reality therapy is conducted in the safety of the office, free of real needles and blood, allowing the client to slowly build their skills and confidence. The client is taught relaxation and breathing skills, and physiology is monitored during all phases of therapy to insure that the client does not become too anxious. Real-time Bio-feedback provides the therapist with all of the patient’s vitals, including heart rate, respiration, skin conductance, temperature, electroencephalogram (EEG), and electrocardiogram (ECG). Therapy can then progress at the client’s own pace as anxiety lessens. The optional head mount display (HMD) is equipped with a head tracker that detects the patient’s head rotations and position while navigating through the virtual world.

needle2.jpgThe VR hospital in which the blood draw procedure occurs is a computerized replica of the Scripps Clinic in San Diego. Navigating with a computer mouse, clients begin the exposure session by crossing the sliding-doors entrance of the virtual clinic. Users can move through the virtual clinic at their own pace. Once inside, clients can navigate pass the reception desk and move to the room where the nurse avatar appears to conduct the blood draw procedure. From the user’s viewpoint, the nurse avatar is faced in front of the patient and draws blood from the patient’s arm.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services.  If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu.
If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Fear of Public speaking

auditorium

It is likely that the most common social phobia is fear of public speaking. Fear of public speaking is the third most common psychiatric disorder and was listed by the Book of Lists as the #1 fear among Americans and an article published in the Wall Street Journal reported that “stage fright” afflicts 20 million people at some point during their lifetimes.

Virtual reality exposure therapy places the client in a computer-generated environment where they “experience” the various aspects of public speaking. The client wears a head-mounted display with small TV monitors and stereo earphones to receive both visual and auditory cues.

 

 

office

In this interactive virtual environment, participants can do role-playing across various scenarios, which may be followed by feedback and discussion with the therapist. The therapist can role play as an audience member and asks questions to the presenter via a microphone. Real-time Bio-feedback provides the therapist with all of the patient’s vitals, including heart rate, respiration, skin conductance, temperature, electroencephalogram (EEG), and electrocardiogram (ECG). The optional head mount display (HMD) is equipped with a head tracker that detects the patient’s head rotations and position while navigating through the virtual world.

The Public Speaking virtual environment consists of a real video footage of a large audience and a small office meeting audience.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services.  If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu.
If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

 

Fear of Heights

heights.jpg

Acrophobia, or the fear of heights, is characterized by an irrational fear of height situations resulting in the avoidance of such situations or the confrontation of such situations with marked distress. This fear for some is endured with distress, whereas for others the fear is so intense that height situations must be avoided altogether. Some may not be able to see a physician if his office is on the fifth floor, will not take a job because the office is on the tenth floor, or will not visit friends that move into an apartment three stories up.

height1.jpg

This application consists of two virtual environments: 1) a virtual elevator and 2) a virtual cable car, that allow people with Acrophobia to be exposed to fearful situations related to heights. In each VR world, the therapist can present the patient with multiple stimuli as well as controlling the movement of the elevator or cable car. Real-time Bio-feedback provides the therapist with all of the patient’s vitals, including heart rate, respiration, skin conductance, temperature, electroencephalogram (EEG), and electrocardiogram (ECG).

The optional head mount display (HMD) is equipped with a head tracker that detects the patient’s head rotations and position while navigating through the virtual world. During VR exposure therapy, the client stands on a custom built platform equipped with rails and a fan used to simulate tactile conditions of riding an outdoor elevator or cable car. Two speakers are mounted on the platform to facilitated immersion through audio stimuli.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu. If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Fear of Flying

To visit our Fear of Flying, click here.

Surveys estimate that fear of flying exists in 10-20% of the population. Some persons have a fear of crashing, while others have a fear of being in an enclosed place with no means of escape. They may fear they will lose control or suffer a panic attack while on the plane.

flying

Behaviors that may suggest an underlying Fear of Flying include:
  • Excessive use of alcohol or sedatives, or changes in behavior prior to or during a flight.
  • Need to drive to a customer when flying makes more sense.
  • Communicating via telephone, fax, or e-mail when face-to-face contact is needed.
  • Avoidance of scheduling appointments that necessitate flying.
  • Discrepancy in job performance–e.g. below par sales–related to flying vs. driving.
  • Refusal to accept job advancement that requires increased flying.
  • “Off-handed” comments related to apprehension or fear of flying.

If you’re one of the thousands of people who are limited by a flying phobia, virtual reality therapy might be for you.

flying

Virtual reality exposure therapy places the client in a computer generated airplane where they “experience” the various aspects of flying. The client wears a head-mounted display with small TV monitors and stereo earphones to receive both visual and auditory cues.

This VR world provides an opportunity to practice exposure for fear of flying with potentially greater immersion than that found in imaginal exposure, yet within the safety of a controlled environment. The flexibility of the program allows for exposure that is customized to each client’s specific needs and unique therapeutic goals. The therapist has full control of the entire procedure so he/she can repeat or skip any step anytime during the simulation. Real-time Bio-feedback provides the therapist with all of the patient’s vitals, including heart rate, respiration, skin conductance, temperature, electroencephalogram (EEG), and electrocardiogram (ECG). The optional head mount display (HMD) is equipped with a head tracker that detects the patient’s head rotations and position while navigating through the virtual world.

Components of the VR Flying world include departure preparation, flight crew announcements, take off, landing, cruising, and full weather control. Full motion video of an actual flight can be viewed through the plane’s window. VRMC uses airplane seats from an actual commercial passenger airplane. The airplane seats are supported by a custom built platform with a built-in 1500 watt linear motor which reacts to audio signals sent by a 2100 watt amplifier, sending low frequency vibrations that are directly experienced by the user. Four surround sound speakers provide the patient with audio realistic from underneath as well as all around.

At every step, the therapist can see and hear what the client is experiencing in the virtual plane. If the client’s level of anxiety becomes overwhelming, the client can return to a less stressful level of treatment, or simply remove the head-mounted display and exit the virtual aircraft.

The entire process:
  • lasts 8-12 sessions on average
  • takes you through a graded set of flight experiences, including:
    • sitting on an aircraft with engines off
    • sitting on an aircraft with engines on
    • taxiing on a runway
    • take-off
    • flight in good weather
    • flight in bad weather, with thunderstorms and turbulence landing
  • uses head-mounted virtual reality display equipment and real-time physiological monitoring
  • is customized for each and every client
  • is faster than traditional exposure therapy and desensitization

To learn more about fear of flying, see our partner website fearofflyingexpert.com.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu. If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Fear of Driving

The Virtual Reality Medical Center offers a new treatment for those with a fear of driving and for those needing to relearn driving skills after a motor vehicle accident.

driving

Virtual reality graded exposure therapy is conducted in the safety of the office and allows the client to slowly build their skills and confidence without exposing themselves or others to unnecessary dangers. As with other phobias, the client is exposed to experiences that elicit higher levels of anxiety in careful, controlled stages. Each stage can be repeated until the client is comfortable with the experience and satisfied with their response.

The client is taught relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing skills, and physiology is monitored during all phases of therapy to insure that the client is not becoming too anxious. Therapy can then progress at the client’s own pace as anxiety lessens.

Clients can practice driving on small or large streets, in varying degrees of traffic and different weather conditions. All of these variables can be altered as the therapist and client agree upon.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu. If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Panic Disorder

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Panic disorder is characterized by un-expected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness or abdominal distress. These sensations often mimic symptoms of a heart attack or other life-threatening medical conditions. As a result, the diagnosis of panic disorder is frequently not made until extensive and costly medical

procedures fail to provide a correct diagnosis or relief. Many people with panic disorder develop intense anxiety between episodes. It is not unusual for a person with panic disorder to develop phobias about places or situations where panic attacks have occurred, such as in supermarkets or other everyday situations. As the frequency of panic attacks increases, the person often begins to avoid situations where they fear another attack may occur or where help would not be immediately available. This avoidance may eventually develop into agoraphobia, an inability to go beyond known and safe surroundings because of intense fear and anxiety.

Fortunately, through research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and by industry, effective treatments have been developed to help people with panic disorder.

How Common Is Panic Disorder?

About 1.7% of the adult U.S. population ages 18 to 54 – approximately 2.4 million Americans – has panic disorder in a given year. Women are twice as likely as men to develop panic disorder.
Panic disorder typically strikes in young adulthood. Roughly half of all people who have panic disorder develop the condition before age 24.

What Causes Panic Disorder?

 

Heredity, other biological factors, stressful life events, and thinking in a way that exaggerates relatively normal bodily reactions are all believed to play a role in the onset of panic disorder. The exact cause or causes of panic disorder are unknown and are the subject of intense scientific investigation.

Studies in animals and humans have focused on pinpointing the specific brain areas and circuits involved in anxiety and fear, which underlie anxiety disorders such as panic disorder. Fear, an emotion that evolved to deal with danger, causes an automatic, rapid protective response that occurs without the need for conscious thought. It has been found that the body’s fear response is coordinated by a small structure deep inside the brain, called the amygdala.

The amygdala, although relatively small, is a very complicated structure, and recent research suggests that anxiety disorders may be associated with abnormal activitation in the amygdala. One aim of research is to use such basic scientific knowledge to develop new therapies.

What Treatments Are Available for Panic Disorder?

Treatment for panic disorder includes medications and a type of psychotherapy known as cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches people how to view panic attacks differently and demonstrates ways to reduce anxiety. NIMH is conducting a large-scale study to evaluate the effectiveness of combining these treatments. Appropriate treatment by an experienced professional can reduce or prevent panic attacks in 70% to 90% of people with panic disorder. Most patients show significant progress after a few weeks of therapy. Relapses may occur, but they can often be effectively treated just like the initial episode.

Can People With Panic Disorder Also Have Other Illnesses?

Research shows that panic disorder can coexist with other disorders, most often depression and substance abuse. About 30% of people with panic disorder abuse alcohol and 17% abuse drugs, such as cocaine and marijuana, in unsuccessful attempts to alleviate the anguish and distress caused by their condition. Appropriate diagnosis and treatment of other disorders such as substance abuse or depression are important to successfully treat panic disorder.

* Information on this page courtesy of NIMH

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu. If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Fear of Open spaces

open

One-third to one-half of those in community samples who have panic disorder also suffer from Agoraphobia. The typical age of onset is either in late adolescence or the mid-30s. In one study carried out with NIMH sponsorship, 2.8% to 5.7% of the population sample met criteria for agoraphobia, with an additional 1% meeting criteria for panic disorder.

Clients with agoraphobia are treated with a combination of relaxation training, physiological feedback and virtual reality graded exposure therapy. Together, the therapist and client work to create a list of situations that become increasingly more anxiety provoking. The client is then exposed to these situations in virtual reality in controlled progressive stages.

There are many environments available for those afraid of open spaces, including beaches, grocery stores, plazas, streets and landscapes. The client may exit these virtual worlds at any time if the situation becomes too frightening.

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu. If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Fear of Closed Spaces

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Whereas agoraphobia is usually associated with the fear of being trapped alone in an open space, claustrophobia is the fear of being trapped in an enclosed place. There is often a strong association between the two phobias; many of those who are fearful of large, open spaces also seem frightened of small, enclosed spaces. About one in ten people suffer from some sort of claustrophobia-from mild to marked-with about 2% of the population suffering from severe claustrophobia. The fear begins in childhood in approximately one-third of claustrophobics, and more women appear to suffer from this disorder than men.

One of the most common signs of claustrophobia is an individual’s refusal to ride in an enclosed elevator. Other common claustrophobic fears include closets, tunnels, airplanes, and certain medical testing machinery, such as magnetic resonance imaging, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, and computed tomography scan.

Virtual reality provides an environment for clients to be exposed to these situations without common problems of loss of confidentiality or risk to personal safety. In the therapist’s office, the client is given coping and relaxation skills prior to exposure. The virtual environments allow the client to experience varying degrees of anxiety relating to elevators, tunnels, and other enclosed spaces.

Each situation can be repeated until the client is comfortable with the experience and satisfied with their response. The therapist has the ability to see and hear what the client is experiencing in the virtual world as well as to monitor physiological response. If the client’s level of anxiety becomes overwhelming, they can return to a less stressful level of treatment, or simply remove the head-mounted display and exit the virtual world.

 Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services.  If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu.
If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

Burnout

burnout

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. It reduces productivity and saps energy, leaving a feeling of an increasing helplessness, hopelessness, cynicism and resentfulness. It may be the result of unrelenting stress, but it isn’t the same as too much stress. Stress, by and large, involves too much: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough. Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up. While you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens.
In many cases, burnout stems from your job. But it is not caused solely by stressful work or too many responsibilities. Other factors contribute to burnout, including lifestyle and certain personality traits.
Work-related causes of burnout
Feeling like you have little or no control over your work
Lack of recognition or rewards for good work
Unclear or overly demanding job expectations
Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging
Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment
Lifestyle causes of burnout
Working too much, without enough time for relaxing and socializing
Being expected to be too many things to too many people
Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others
Not getting enough sleep
Lack of close, supportive relationships
Personality traits can contribute to burnout
Perfectionistic tendencies – nothing is ever good enough
Pessimistic view of yourself and the world
The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others
High-achieving, Type A personality
Warning signs and symptoms of burnout
Preventing burnout
If you recognize the warning signs of impending burnout, remember that it will only get worse if you leave it alone. But taking steps to get your life back into balance, can help prevent burnout from becoming a full-blown breakdown.
Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you would like to have us as a partner in clinical trials, please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu.

If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.

biofeedback

Biofeedback is a method to visualize the physiological processes which are taking place ‘inside’ the body, triggered by the nervous system. A special electronic measuring device is connected to the body which measures parameters such as breathing, heart rate, skin conductance and respiration. By using these physiological signals as feedback under the guidance of a trained professional clinician, people learn relaxation techniques, they improve their health and performance. It has been scientifically ascertained that many conditions can be treated successfully by applying biofeedback, thus reducing the intake of medication.
Biofeedback applications
The following list of health problems are examples of conditions in which stress or psycho-somatic factors can play a significant part:
  • Chronic tension headaches
  • Migraine
  • Anxiety disorders and hyperventilation
  • Burnout / stress problems
  • Essential hypertension
  • Palpitations, arrhythmia
  • ADHD and learning disabilities
Biofeedback can’t be compared to classical medication or to passive therapy:
It is an active method, requiring the client or patient to actively participate;
It is a learning process, requiring a learning process and behavioral change;
It only works when the client is motivated;
It requires the right biofeedback equipment and a trained clinician.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for a biofeedback session please contact us at frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or +1 858 642 0267.       Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services.  If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries.

Anxiety Disorders

Most people experience feelings of anxiety before an important event such as a big exam, business presentation, or first date. Anxiety disorders, however, are illnesses that fill people’s lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear that are chronic, unremitting, and can grow progressively worse. Tormented by panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, flashbacks of traumatic events, nightmares, or countless frightening physical symptoms, some people with anxiety disorders even become housebound. Fortunately, through research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are effective treatments that can help.

How Common Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders, as a group, are the most common mental illness in America. More than 19 million European adults are affected by these debilitating illnesses each year. Children and adolescents can also develop anxiety disorders.

What Are the Different Kinds of Anxiety Disorders?

Panic Disorder—Repeated episodes of intense fear that strike often and without warning. Physical symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal distress, feelings of unreality, and fear of dying.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) —Repeated, unwanted thoughts or compulsive behaviors that seem impossible to stop or control.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) —Persistent symptoms that occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event such as rape or other criminal assault, war, child abuse, natural or human-caused disasters, or crashes. Nightmares, flashbacks, numbing of emotions, depression, and feeling angry, irritable or distracted and being easily startled are common. Family members of victims can also develop this disorder.

Phobias —Two major types of phobias are social phobia and specific phobia. People with social phobia have an overwhelming and disabling fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or humiliation in social situations, which leads to avoidance of many potentially pleasurable and meaningful activities. People with specific phobia experience extreme, disabling, and irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger; the fear leads to avoidance of objects or situations and can cause people to limit their lives unnecessarily.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) —Constant, exaggerated worrisome thoughts and tension about everyday routine life events and activities, lasting at least six months. Almost always anticipating the worst even though there is little reason to expect it; accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headache, or nausea.

What Are Effective Treatments for Anxiety Disorders?

Treatments have been largely developed through research conducted by NIMH and other research institutions. They help many people with anxiety disorders and often combine medication and specific types of psychotherapy.

A number of medications that were originally approved for treating depression have been found to be effective for anxiety disorders as well. Some of the newest of these antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Other antianxiety medications include groups of drugs called benzodiazepines and beta-blockers. If one medication is not effective, others can be tried. New medications are currently under development to treat anxiety symptoms.

Two clinically-proven effective forms of psychotherapy used to treat anxiety disorders are behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy focuses on changing specific actions and uses several techniques to stop unwanted behaviors. In addition to the behavioral therapy techniques, cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches patients to understand and change their thinking patterns so they can react differently to the situations that cause them anxiety.

Do Anxiety Disorders Co-Exist with Other Physical or Mental Disorders?

It is common for an anxiety disorder to accompany depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, or another anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can also co-exist with illnesses such as cancer or heart disease. In such instances, the accompanying disorders will also need to be treated. Before beginning any treatment, however, it is important to have a thorough medical examination to rule out other possible causes of symptoms.

Other Anxiety Disorders

Psychologists and psychiatrists are available to treat stress-related disorders such as migraine and tension headache, chronic jaw pain, and irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, general stress management is taught.

The Virtual Reality Medical Center employs psychologists and psychiatrists that are able to treat clients with traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This typically involves teaching stress and anxiety management techniques that can be used in any anxiety-inducing situation, and then exposing you to pictures and video and auditory stimuli of the phobic object. Some disorders will then involve exposure to the actual feared object in real life, when you are ready for this step.

* Information on this page courtesy of NIMH

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us at email: frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or telephone +1 858 642 0267. Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services. If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries. .

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Please note that our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research Projects and Consulting Services.  If you would like to have us as a consultant or partner in clinical trials or EU projects,

please contact us at: office @ vrphobia.eu.

If you wish to come to our Southern California Clinics for a one to two week Condensed Treatment, we do offer individual therapy services to those coming from other States/Countries.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for a therapy session please contact us at
frontoffice @ vrphobia.com
or  telephone directly to +1 858 642 0267.

1. What are phobias?

2. How do I begin the treatment process?

3a. What licensing do the therapists have?

3b. What training and experience do the therapists have in this area?

4. What are the clinical procedures at the VRMI?

5. What will happen during therapy?

6. How many sessions are required?

7. How can I be an active participant in my own recovery?

8. How much does treatment cost?

9. What is your rate of success?

10. Other than anxiety disorders, what conditions do you treat at the clinics?

11. What if you don’t have a virtual environment for my phobia?

12. What if there is not a clinic near me?

13. Do you treat children?

14. Are you able to prescribe medication to me if I need it?

 

1. What are phobias?

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. Phobias can be divided into three categories: social phobia, agoraphobia and specific phobia. Social phobia is a fear of being judged in social or performance situations. Agoraphobia is a fear of public places and open spaces. Specific phobia is a fear of a specific object or situation, such as airplanes, spiders or heights. Click here to learn more about phobias and anxiety disorders.

2. How do I begin the treatment process?

You will sit down with the therapist and talk about any questions that may be present. Together both of you will discuss what will be done as part of the program. You will also discuss what you would like to accomplish through treatment. A full history and clinical assessment will also be provided. You will then learn relaxation techniques and diaphragmatic breathing skills as a means to ease fear and stress levels.

Please visit our About Us page for more information.

3a. What licensing do the therapists have?

Please visit our Team page for more information.

3b. What training and experience do the therapists have in this area?

Please visit our staff page to get to know the therapists at the clinic near you.

4. What are the clinical procedures at the VRMI?

Non-invasive sensors used to measure your heart rate, breathing rate, sweat gland activity and skin temperature. The therapist will then explain visual feedback of physiology to you. You will learn to control your breathing rate and heart rate, and cognitive coping techniques will be taught before placing you into the VR world. Please visit our About Us page for more information.

5. What will happen during therapy?

Please visit our About Us page for more information.

6. How many sessions are required?

The intake session is 60 to 90 minutes long and consists of a diagnostic interview and lessons on anxiety management. Every regular session thereafter is 45-50 minutes consisting of either continued psychotherapy or VR exposure. On average, patients complete treatment by scheduling once a week for 10-12 weeks.  If you are coming from out of the area, one to two sessions each day, Monday through Friday, can be scheduled.

The number of sessions required, however, will vary depending on the specific condition being addressed. All sessions, after the initial session, are 50 minutes each. Normally, treatment progresses once per week. On average, if you are seeking treatment for a Specific Phobia, 8-10 sessions are required. The average number of sessions for Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia is 12-15 and for PTSD 15-20 sessions. This average will vary by individual based on the severity of your disorder and your active participation in treatment and assigned “homework” tasks.

7. How can I be an active participant in my own recovery?

There are many ways to be an active participant in your own treatment. Learning and practicing the anxiety management techniques is key. Reading and completing workbook exercises between sessions will also help your progress. In addition, you can explore the feared environment in real life in one of its less threatening modes in between VR exposure sessions (ie. visiting the airport if you have a fear of flying).

8. How much does treatment cost?

Treatments are currently available only in California – La Jolla, San Diego, and Coronado.

Session 1:  Intake and Clinical History:  300 USD

Session 2:  Skills Training:   200 USD

As of Session 3:  Virtual Reality Sessions @ 200 USD per session

9. What is your rate of success?

Controlled clinical studies of virtual reality treatment as well as our clinical services performed over the past 20 years for specific phobias, panic disorder, and agoraphobia reveal a success rate of approximately 92%.   For PTSD due to Motor Vehicle Accidents, our success rate is 88%.  For PTSD due to trauma during conflicts, our success rate is 80% (this is in contrast to most other treatment success rates of 40% with significant dropouts).

10. Other than anxiety disorders, what conditions do you treat at the clinics?

Psychologists and psychiatrists are available to treat chronic pain, stress-related disorders such as migraine and tension headache, chronic jaw pain, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder and irritable bowel syndrome, and to teach coping skills and treat stress and anxiety due to medical conditions.  In addition, general stress management is taught.  Dr. Wiederhold is Board Certified in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback in addition to her doctorate in Clinical Health Psychology and licensure as a Clinical Psychologist in California and Belgium.  She oversees all psychology operations at the clinic.

11. What if you don’t have a virtual environment for my phobia?

The Virtual Reality Medical Institute employs psychologists and psychiatrists that are able to treat clients with traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This typically involves teaching stress and anxiety management techniques that can be used in any anxiety-inducing situation, and then exposing you to pictures and video and auditory stimuli of the phobic object. Some disorders will then involve exposure to the actual feared object in real life, when you are ready for this step.

12. What if there is not a clinic near me?

Condensed treatment, one session per day, Monday-Friday, is available for those traveling from out-of-town.  For a specific phobia, this would require a 2-week committment from the client.  Treatments are available in California only – La Jolla and Sorrento Valley locations.

13. Do you treat children?

The youngest client treated has been six years old and the most senior has been 83. There are therapists available to treat individuals of all ages.

14. Are you able to prescribe medication to me if I need it?

Our clinicians do not prescribe medication to you. However, VRMI has close ties to psychiatrists and internal medicine specialists in the area and can refer you to those professionals should you wish.  We also work closely with other disciplines, such as Acupuncture and Nutritionists to provide an integrative treatment approach for our patients.

Fears, Phobias & Disorders     |     F.A.Q 

Virtual Therapy

Workbook (French)

Conquering Panic, Anxiety and Phobias Workbook (Chinese)

Workbook (Italian)

PTSD Clinical Treatment Protocols

Fear of Closed Spaces Fear of Thunderstorms
Fear of Driving School Phobia (Avoidance/Refusal)
Fear of Flying Social Phobia 
Fear of Heights Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Fear of Needles and Blood Panic Disorder
Fear of Open Spaces Flying Anticipatory Anxiety
Fear of Public Speaking Anxiety Disorders
Fear of Spiders Pain Distraction
Biofeedback

Our Clinicians

brenda wiederhold

 

Professor Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCB, BCN 

Professor Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCB, BCN is President of the Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC), with offices in Sorrento Valley, La Jolla and Coronado, California; Qingdao, China; and Brussels, Belgium.  Professor Wiederhold is registered as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with the California Board of Psychology and the Belgian Commission des Psychologues. Her doctorate is in Clinical Health Psychology, and she is Board Certified in both Biofeedback and Neurofeedback.  She is Chief Executive Officer of the Interactive Media Institute, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the application of advanced technologies for patient care; a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD; Medical Staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla; a Visiting Professor at the Catholic University in Milan and an Advisory Board Member for the International Child Art Foundation in Washington, DC.

 

Founder of the international CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy, & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY), now celebrating its 22nd year, she also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the MedLine-indexed CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking Journal (CYBER) published by Mary Ann Liebert Publishers in New York.  She has over 300 scientific publications and is currently completing her 18th book. Recognized as an international leader in the treatment of stress-related disorders, burnout, pain and anxiety (panic, posttraumatic stress disorder and phobias) with Virtual Reality exposure, biofeedback and cognitive-behavioral therapy, in 1996 she conducted the first randomised controlled clinical trial using VR and biosensors to treat fear of flying.  In 2006 she conducted the first randomised controlled clinical trial using VR to treat Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from PTSD.  She has conducted over 10,000 VR therapy sessions and given invited lectures and training programs in 29 countries throughout Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East.

Professor Wiederhold works to inform and educate policymakers, funding agencies, world leaders, the scientific community and general public about the transformative impact technology can have on healthcare.  A U.S. citizen, Dr. Wiederhold has lived and worked in Asia, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium.

 

 

 

rory

 

Major Rory Rodriquez, Chaplain, USA, Retired

Rory Alan Rodriquez is currently a retired Chaplain (MAJ) serving over 20 years in the United States Navy (1976-1980) and Army (1996-2013).  He has traveled extensively throughout his military career with numerous overseas assignments which include: Guam, Hawaii, Korea, Honduras, Iraq, Estonia, Germany, and Belgium where he currently resides with his Belgium bride Valerie.
His passion for learning has earned him a B.A. in Theological Studies (Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College, M.Min. and D.Min. (Bethany Divinity College and Seminary), M.S.in Community Counseling (Columbus State University), M.Div. (Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary), PSY D. student (California Southern University) and an intern at the Virtual Reality Medical Institute located in Brussels, Belgium.
He also completed requirements for a Licensed Professional Counselor with the State of Illinois (License No. 178.010749) and as a National Certified Counselor.  In addition, he has memberships and certifications including:  NAVAC Professional Clinical Member, Association of Clinical Pastoral Education Clinical Member, College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy certification in Clinical Pastoral Education, AAPC Pastoral Care Specialist, and an Associate Membership with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).
Rory is highly integrative in his approach in the therapeutic session.  He is clinically trained with a specialization in providing pastoral care and psychotherapy for a holistic healing approach with the patient.  He also uses Virtual Reality and Biofeedback combined with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to treat persons with Posttraumatic Stress, anxiety disorders (phobias, panic attacks, agoraphobia), chronic pain, burnout and stress.

The Virtual Reality Medical Institute

EFFECTIVE 1 January 2016, please note our new contact information: Email frontoffice @ vrphobia.com and Telephone +1 858 642 0267.

Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) is a Belgian corporation located in Zaventem (Brussels). VRMI was selected to participate in the June 2013 Belgian Economic Mission to California, led by Prince Philippe, now King Philippe, of Belgium.

Our Belgian Institute is involved only in Research and Consulting. All clinical services are done at our U.S. clinics. If you wish to come for Condensed Treatment, we do see individuals from other countries/states for individual therapy over one to two week time periods (one session per day Monday through Friday) at both our Sorrento Valley and La Jolla, California clinics.

VRMI established the first Belgium-based Virtual Reality (VR) and Biofeedback-enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Healthcare Clinic. VRMI now focuses on medical and psychological research studies using Virtual Reality technology, as well as participating in EU projects and EU consulting.

The Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) specializes in the use of advanced technologies such as virtual reality and telehealth to improve the quality and availability of healthcare for people around the globe. VRMI develops and tests applications for these technologies to be used in medical and psychological training, therapy, education, and rehabilitation. VRMI focuses on:

– Research – VRMI works with international funders and partners to study the possible application for technology as it relates to, for example, stress-related disorders, anxiety disorders, acute and chronic pain, cognitive and physical rehabilitation, posttraumatic stress disorder, stress inoculation training, smoking prevention and cessation, medical training, teen driver training, and pharmaceutical effects.

In addition, VRMI is involved in human-computer interaction research, helping to understand the impact of social networking and other technologies on individual behavior, relationships, and society as a whole.

– Education – VRMI publishes journals, articles, books and other communication materials in order to inform and educate both a professional audience and the general public.

– Collaboration – VRMI encourages international collaboration through conference organization, continuing education courses, advanced think tanks, other specialized events, and presentations at seminal conferences.

To facilitate its growth strategy and to enable the clinic to carry out demanding dissemination and exploitation projects, as well as clinical and marketing trials,     VRMI employs highly qualified personnel, who work in state-of-the-art hardware and software facilities. Its in-house expertise is greatly expanded via a network of international collaborations with similar but complementary organizations and very high-level experts.

 

Capabilities

More specifically, VRMI’s core strengths include:

  • Research and technological development The VRMI team has a proven track record of assembling the best scientific team to produce sustained, successful performance on research projects, and has patented several inventions.
  • Demonstration: In addition to winning research funds, the VRMI team has won product development funds, bringing several software and hardware products to prototype stage and attracting venture capital interest.
  • Innovation activities – protection and dissemination of knowledge: The VRMI team excels at knowledge dissemination through publication in peer-reviewed journals, the organization of conferences, meetings, workshops and other events, and presentations at seminal conferences, while assuring the confidentiality of partners’ intellectual property.
  • Project management: As its global partners will attest, the VRMI team embodies continuous improvement in project management practices, superbly coordinates the work of scientists in different countries, and consistently meets deadlines and cost targets.
  • Training of researchers and key staff: The VRMI team holds several current training contracts for end users of its products, with a 100% satisfaction rating.

The Potential of Virtual Reality

If there is any point not answered through our website, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

Contact details:
Virtual Reality Medical Institute
Prekelindenlaan 64, box 5
1200 Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe, Belgium
Telephone: +1/ 858/ 642 0267
E-Mail: frontoffice (&) vrphobia(dot)com

Follow us on Twitter

http://twitter.com/VirtualBrenda

@VirtualBrenda

 

For detailed information about the team, please go to the Team page.

Home

Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) is a Belgian corporation located in Brussels. It is affiliated with Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC), a California Medical Corporation headquartered in San Diego, California. VRMI was selected to participate in the June 2013 Belgian Economic Mission to California, led by Prince Philippe, now King Philippe, of Belgium.

Our Belgian Institute is focused on Research Studies, Consulting and Project Dissemination. Virtual Reality clinical services are currently available only at our California-based clinics. If you live in Southern California, you may wish to come once a week for treatment. For those coming from out of the area, you may wish to come to one of our clinics for Condensed Treatment, with daily sessions over a two-week time period available at both our Sorrento Valley and La Jolla, California clinics (www.vrphobia.com or www.fearofflyingexpert.com).

VRMI established the first Belgium-based Virtual Reality (VR) and Biofeedback-enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Healthcare Institute. VRMI focuses on medical and psychological research studies using Virtual Reality technology, as well as participating in EU projects and EU consulting.

driving   flying

 biofeedback  sen3

Using a Combined Communications Platform of an annual international conference (www.interactivemediainstitute.com), specialized workshops, clinician training courses, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, a quarterly magazine, and a website information portal, VRMI is also active in informing and educating the general public, policymakers, funding agents, industry and academia. Having been involved in R&D projects in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. for the past 30 years, the principals of VRMI are now bringing their clinically-validated products and protocols to the private practice setting.

VRMI has established affiliates in both China and the U.S. and envisages the healthcare of the future. VRMI has expertise in simulation technologies in three main areas: 1) treating patients with phobias, panic, agoraphobia, stress, pre-surgical anxiety, stress-related disorders, chronic pain, burnout and chronic medical conditions; 2) training for military medical and civilian first responder populations, and 3) enhancing medical educational programs. Working closely with the Belgian Erasmus Program and the University of California, San Diego, VRMI also serves as a mentor to Young Entrepreneurs, pre-doctoral interns and post-doctoral fellows.

For more information please contact: frontoffice @ vrphobia.com or call +1 858 642 0267