How a VR Therapy Session Works
VR therapy sessions are conducted safely and comfortably in Michael Mruz’s Scarsdale office. The virtual environments are designed to stimulate the same thoughts and emotions as a real-life situation. For many people, virtual reality exposure therapy can be preferable to traditional exposure therapy since it occurs in a more controlled environment where intensity and duration of stimuli are controlled by the therapist, with the opportunity for immediate coaching and support from the therapist.
If you’ve never participated in a VR therapy session, you probably have many questions: How does VR therapy work? What’s the VR therapy process? What equipment is needed? What’s going to happen? Will I be alone? The purpose of this article is to answer all of these questions about VR therapy and explain how the VR therapy process proceeds.
Related: What is VR Therapy?
VR Therapy Sessions: The Process
Beginning Your VR Therapy Session
A VR Therapy session begins like any other traditional face-to-face therapy session. When you and your therapist are ready you will begin the VR portion of the session, and after the VR portion you and your therapist will review and process what occurred during VR.
- Bio-feedback monitors go on two of your fingers
- VR headset goes on your face, and straps go around your head. Adjust the straps for a snug fit and use the adjustment wheels to account for near- or far-sightedness and get the view into perfect focus.
- Laptop computer: Michael will be following along with your scenario on his laptop computer. He will see everything you see, monitor your stress responses through the bio-feedback sensors, and take notes.
Your VR Therapy Experience
After settling in, Michael will initiate the VR therapy program. The program will present to you scenarios that will expose you to situations that trigger your specific anxiety or phobia. This is called exposure therapy, and it teaches you control over anxiety situations.
Once ‘inside’ the scenario, it is important to immerse yourself into the virtual environment. One important way to acclimate yourself and increase your sensation of presence is to simulate the posture of your avatar; e.g. if the avatar is standing, you should stand, too.
The VR therapy session will begin to expose you to visual and audible triggers that simulate the real-life scenarios that will trigger your anxiety or phobia. As you become comfortable in a VR scenario, Michael will adjust the scenario to increase the difficulty. During periods of increased stress, Michael will assist you with relaxation exercises or stress management techniques.
Just as with a traditional face-to-face session, clear, open and honest communication is vital. Be sure to communicate fully, tell Michael how you are feeling, and respond to his questions or prompts.
Review and Process Your VR Therapy Experience
After you leave the VR Therapy environment, you will review and process the overall experience; how you felt, how useful the relaxation exercises or stress management techniques were, what you’d want to do differently, etc. Then you will conclude your session with a relaxation exercise and a review of next steps.