Virtual Reality Technologies Are Reportedly Unlocking New Possibilities For Mental Healthcare

Virtual Reality Technologies Are Reportedly Unlocking New Possibilities For Mental Healthcare

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Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are gaining popularity for their potential to make more immersive games and entertainment, but now healthcare professionals are seemingly realizing the potential of this rapidly improving technology as therapeutic tools.

The emerging AR/VR healthcare market is estimated to have a compound annual growth rate of 27.2% as technological advancements may reach a point where using AR/VR in therapy is not only practical but capable of providing exciting new psychiatric treatments.

This month, Pasithea Therapeutics Corp. KTTA has reported moving itself forward within the market by partnering with AR/VR industry leader The Glimpse Group Inc. VRAR to develop VR environments for treating patients with various psychiatric disorders.

Virtual And Augmented Reality Tech Could Create Personalized, Controlled Therapeutic Environments

Though AR/VR is new, researchers are exploring ways to tap into its potential mental health benefits. The most well-established therapeutic use for the tech is in exposure therapy, where patients with various kinds of anxiety or trauma can interact and confront their triggers from the safety of their home or a therapist’s office, knowing they can remove the headset and instantly leave the simulation if they get overwhelmed.

For cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — where therapists work with patients to modify negative thought processes or change unhealthy behaviors and reactions — VR/AR tech may be an opportunity to create real-world scenarios where patients can practice the new behaviors and thought processes in a realistic setting.

This kind of “real-world” training and exposure is rarely possible in mental healthcare today because it’s not always feasible for therapists to accompany a patient to a social event or take a trauma survivor back to the place where the trauma occurred.

Plus, unlike the real world, therapists can fully control a virtual environment and modify the scenario to different difficulty levels based on what the patient is comfortable with and capable of handling.

In Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s KST set of free #BeFearless apps, for example, users can overcome their fear of public speaking by immersing themselves in a range of different public speaking scenarios including job interviews, class presentations and giving a toast — all while the app measures speaking pace, volume, eye contact and heart rate to provide real-time feedback and coaching.

In professional therapeutic settings, the personalization and adaptation possibilities are even greater as a trained therapist can tailor virtual scenarios and environments to the exact needs of each patient.

Pasithea And Glimpse Are Developing New Therapeutic VR Environments

Pasithea, a biotech company that explores novel drugs for treating psychiatry and neurological disorders, says it is committed to addressing the unmet need for better mental healthcare, whether that takes the form of more effective medications or using new technology and evidence-based approaches in therapy and patient care.

Pasithea and Glimpse report that together they plan to develop virtual environments including programs for developing patient-specific environments like virtual versions of past traumatic experiences or simulated scenarios for working through tough conversations and difficult choices.

Foretell Reality, the Glimpse subsidiary that will develop the platform with Pasithea, specializes in using AR/VR for remote therapy sessions, exposure therapy, guided role play, play therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence-based therapies. 

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