Does the virtual reality therapy work

Fight fear with VR glasses

I'm driving on the autobahn when a downpour breaks out. The water is pouring down the windshield and I can barely see what's going on around me. I feel like I'm about to lose control. There is a cold sweat on my forehead, followed by a racing heart and tremors all over my body. With the greatest effort I make it home unscathed, but I can't get rid of the fear. I keep getting panic attacks. Even when I'm in the shower. There are also new fears: everyday things like driving over a bridge in a car are suddenly no longer feasible for me.

The VR glasses simulate situations that trigger fear.

Because I don't want to go on like this, I look for help - and find "Invirto", an anxiety therapy that mostly runs via an app. In a video call I get to know the psychologist who will accompany me during my therapy. Together we think about which app content and exercises are suitable to help me with my anxiety disorder.

Then I get everything I need for digital therapy sent to me: VR glasses, headphones and access to the Invirto app.

In eight digital learning units, I learn to understand my fears better and I am shown strategies with which they can be overcome. I can try out which strategy works for me in the experiments with the VR glasses. It simulates situations that would normally panic me. Once the exercises have been completed, I can integrate what I have learned into my everyday life. For example, I now know that it helps me to look into the distance when I pass a bridge.

Once the exercises have been completed, I can integrate what I have learned into my everyday life. Clara *

Therapy is over after eight weeks. The fears have not yet been completely overcome. But I now know what I can do to get rid of them little by little. I am no longer ashamed of it and am proud of every little sense of achievement. I do not allow new fears to arise in the first place by approaching situations in a more objective manner and asking myself: "Is this really as bad as I imagine it to be?" In most cases the answer is now to
Lucky "no".

* Name changed by the editor.

An anxiety disorder is a serious condition

... fortunately very treatable. The problem is: when people get into situations that scare them, the first impulse is to flee. An essential part of anxiety therapy is therefore to confront the patient with these situations. Experience then teaches them that what they expect - namely that something bad should happen - does not have to happen at all.

Whether the therapy takes place digitally or in the "classic" way makes no difference in the result. Some of my patients feel more comfortable with the digital version because they don't have to stick to appointments, but can work independently and at their own pace to deal with their fear. Be it during lunch break or on the couch. For others, it takes a lot of effort to travel to the clinic because the route contains elements that cause panic in them - such as driving a car or using public transport. These patients are often happy when they can approach the therapy from home.

However, none of this means that a patient will be left alone at any point in time. Invirto is a therapy accompanied by therapists, discussions and exchanges are part of the whole. If a patient is at risk of letting treatment slip, we try to motivate them by calling or writing emails asking about their situation and offering our help.

The contents do not differ from what is conveyed in a classic therapy.They are based on the guidelines applicable to psychotherapists and have been scientifically tested. If the therapy is completed after four to eight weeks, the patient retains access to all content in the app. So he is free to continue practicing with it.

Help against fear