Virtual Reality (VR) is not a new technology, and has over two decades of research supporting its high clinical efficacy. It is a powerful tool for the treatment of mental health & behavioural issues.
Studies have shown that Virtual Reality can evoke the same reactions, thoughts and emotions as experiences in a real-world situation. i.e. visiting a virtual beach can make you feel the same way as you would on a real beach!
Numerous studies have shown that Virtual Reality based treatments are more efficient and more effective at reducing stress and anxiety than some traditional techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
The Psychology Department of the Universitat de Vic - Universitat Central de Catalunya, Spain used Relax VR in a pilot study with 30 participants which examined the efficacy of VR in inducing relaxation and positive emotions in a non clinical sample.
The study found that Relax VR was able to:
• Significantly reduce the levels of anxiety and negative emotions on the participants.
• Promote a positive mood in the participants
• The use of VR for relaxation represents a promising approach as a stress management tool.
Universidad de Córdoba, Argentina used Relax VR in a study with 62 participants which evaluated whether the inclusion of a therapeutic narrative (breath awareness meditation) in a virtual environment can increase the analgesic (pain-relieving) effects of VR during a cold-pressor experiment.
The study found that Relax VR's meditation significantly increased in the participants:
• Pain tolerance
• Pain threshold, and
• Levels of satisfaction
compared to those who didn't receive the meditation but were still present in the virtual environment.
A pilot study conducted at Clinical Dental Service, Panama used Relax VR with 25 participants while they were in the waiting room prior to a dental intervention.
The study used a virtual beach scenario combined with Relax VR's breathing awareness technique to assess changes in the level of state anxiety and positive mood in patients.
The study found that Relax VR:
• Reduced the levels of dental anxiety, state-anxiety and negative emotions
• Induced a positive mood in patients waiting for the dental procedure
The use of relaxation techniques such as those used in Relax VR have been shown to have a number of benefits:
• Increased quality of life and emotional well-being (Varvogli & Christina Darviri, 2011)
• Reduced anxiety, stress, fatigue and/or depression (Chen, Huang, Chien & Cheng, 2017; Klanin-Yobas, Oo, Suzanne-Yew & Law, 2015, Kwekkeboom & Bratzke, 2016, Nooner, Dwyer, DeShea & Yeo, 2016; Zhou et al., 2015)
• Highly recommended for individuals with insomnia (Jerath, Beveridge & Barnes, 2019, Lan et al., 2002)
• Enhanced performance and recovery in athletes (Kellmann, Pelka & Beckmann, 2018; Parnabas, Mahamood, Parnabas & Meera-Abdullah, 2014))
• Positive effects during pregnancy (Fink, Urech, Caveti & Adler, 2012; Urech, Fink, Hoesli, Wilhelm, Bitzer & Adler, 2014, Yeager, 2019)
Virtual reality has been shown to have a number of benefits:
• Reduced levels of stress and inducing positive emotions when natural scenarios are used (Anderson et al., 2017, Annerstedt et al., 2013; Tanja-Dijkstra et al., 2014; Tanja-Dijkstra et al., 2018)
• Enhancing and supporting the practice of relaxation and meditation techniques when natural scenes are used (Fusco, Di Nunzio & Moccia, 2018;Freeman, Lessiter, Keogh, Bond & Chapman, 2004; Preziosa, Villani, Mantovani & Riva, 2005, Riva, Gorini & Gaggioli, 2009; Repetto et al., 2009)
• Treating anxiety-related disorders (Carl et al., 2019; Meyerbröker & Emmelkamp, 2010; Opris, Pintea, García-Palacios, Botella & Szamosköki, 2012; Parsons & Rizzo, 2008; Powers & Emmelkamp, 2008)
• Promoting a positive mood in the general population (Baños et al., 2014; Felnhofer et al., 2015) and in patients with cancer (Baños et al., 2013) and fibromyalgia (Herrero, García-Palacios, Castilla, Molinari & Botella, 2014).