“Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy as Part of a CBT Treatment Program for Anxiety Disorders: Moth Phobia Case Study ”

2006年 7月12日 「Virtual Reality Exposure for the Treatment of Mottephobia」の発表

Virtual reality exposure therapy has been found to be an effective treatment for simple phobias. It is especially useful in treating phobias where in-vivo exposure is difficult to do. For example, in-vivo exposure for the fear of storms can only be conducted when the weather is bad, while in-vivo exposure for the fear of flying requires a large amount of time and money. It may also be impractical to do in-vivo exposure in a clinical environment for small animals, insects, and spiders. Keeping the feared objects in the office could be quite inconvenient. For these reasons it was hypothesized that the fear of moths, mottephobia, and the fear of butterflies are simple phobias that could be effectively treated with the use of virtual reality exposure therapy.

A virtual reality environment was created for the treatment of butterfly and moth phobias. The environment is comprised of a large outdoor field with mountains in the distance. A tree is located in the middle of the field as a reference point. The user can walk around in the environment by using a game controller to move forward and backwards. Direction of view and movement is controlled by a position tracker. The number of butterflies and moths in the environment is controlled by the operator. Green, yellow, and blue butterflies are included in the environment along with grey moths.

A 20 item questionnaire to asses the level of fear for butterflies and moths was created. Each item was ranked on a scale from 0-100 points, with the total score used as the measurement to monitor the treatment progress.

A single patient with a fear of moths was recruited for the study. She had 19 sessions of treatment using cognitive and behavioral techniques. 10 of the sessions used virtual reality exposure therapy. During the virtual reality exposure the patient’s physiological signals were monitored. In addition to the physiological data, SUD ratings were collected from the patient during the exposure.

The treatment program was found to significantly reduce the patients fear so that it could no longer be classified as a phobia. The virtual environment was found to be very effective in eliciting a fear response during the initial exposure sessions. This was indicated by the SUD readings from the patient and the skin temperature data. The score from the questionnaire was also a good indicator of treatment progress. It decreased from 1670 points to 766 points over the course of the treatment.