Augmented-reality-therapy

Augmented-reality-therapy

For people with katsaridaphobia, or the fear of cockroaches, the common pests are more than nuisances—they are the stuff of nightmares. When some phobics spot one of the skittering beasts they start sobbing uncontrollably, whereas others who have seen them in their homes seriously consider moving. Psychologists can treat such disruptive fears with exposure therapy, in which a therapist gradually presents the feared stimulus to the patient in increasingly intimate scenarios. Recently, some psychologists have successfully combined exposure therapy and virtual reality to treat fears of flying, heights and spiders, asking patients to interact with simulated environments that guarantee their safety.

Now, a team of psychologists has completed the first clinical trial testing the treatment of cockroach phobia with augmented reality—a younger cousin of virtual reality that layers digital animations over video or photos of a real-world environment. The new study, published in the September issue of Behavior Therapy, is the most recent and most significant step toward bringing augmented reality therapy out of the lab and into common clinical practice.

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