December 19, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

As part of the National Social Anxiety Center’s (NSAC) service of disseminating and promoting evidence-based treatment, I’d like to share and receive feedback regarding emerging research utilizing virtual reality for social anxiety. This published study was the first to compare virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) as a stand alone treatment versus individual in-vivo exposure therapy, and a control group. While results showed that VRET and in-vivo exposures were both effective as stand alone treatments for social anxiety, it appeared cognitive changes (fear of negative evaluation) only occurred in the in-vivo exposure group. Additionally, several areas of improvement maintained at 3-month follow up for the in-vivo exposure group, but not the VRET group.

Has anyone found incorporating virtual reality interventions to offer a tangible benefit in clinical practice as compared to traditional exposure and cognitive interventions? Would specific patient variables or stages of treatment might be best suited for virtual reality interventions?

“Exposure to virtual social interactions in the treatment of social anxiety
disorder: A randomized controlled trial.”

Kampmann, I.L., Emmelkamp, P.M.G., Hartanto, D., Brinkman, W.-P.,
Zijlstra, B.J.H., Morina, N. (2016). Link to abstract.

Robert Yeilding, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist

Representative of NSAC Newport Beach / Orange County (Anxiety and
Depression Center)