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Virtual Reality for working with Anxiety, Fears, Phobias and Trauma.

One of the approaches I offer to help with anxiety, fears, phobias or trauma is to develop a solid grounding capability and then to incorporate learning about thoughts, feelings, body sensations and behaviours as we work on the particular fear, anxiety, phobia or trauma. Your specific context requires a specific solution for you, which may involve visualisation or 'in-vivo' (real life) exposure to the specific context at the right time. It is important not to go too fast as there could be a risk of 'not succeeding' or causing a further negative reaction. Virtual Reality (VR) introduces the additional benefit of being able to be 'in-vivo' whilst also being able to quickly step away from it, moving carefully and testing out grounding skills and challenging thoughts as you do so. After VR exposure and when grounding skills and thought/feeling/behaviour management skills are sound, then the in-vivo can be worked on. Not everyone will need the VR phase and sometimes people can quickly go to real situations; it depends on your context.

Although there is a big overlap, trauma can function slightly differently to fears and phobias and so VR may take a slightly different role, although one again it features in between visualisation and in-vivo. In this context we will be looking to undertake a process: Activate the trauma memory, guide a 'Contradictory/Juxtaposition Experience', Re-Consolidate the new learning. This process of memory re-consolidation is understood to help process the trauma memory and alleviate the 'old' responses, replacing them with more healthy responses.

Sometimes it just is not possible to go out and test a fear/phobia response - you can't just jump in an MRI machine, or go fly a plane, so VR can help with preparation before these scenarios occur and skills can be developed beforehand. 

Please do get in touch if you would like to find out more.

Link to VR videos (password required)

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