Recently, we, at Restored Wings, were graciously gifted a virtual reality system. You might be asking: What do we need a virtual reality system for? We are excited to be using this cutting edge technology as part of our treatment options for our survivors. In fact, virtual reality has been proven to have therapeutic effects on those who are struggling with phobias, anxiety, and PTSD. So, how can virtual reality help with PTSD and the work that we do at Restored Wings?
What is VRET?
Also known as, VRET, virtual reality exposure therapy, helps PTSD patients confront their past traumas and actively work through them. This form of exposure therapy helps patients confront their past traumatic experiences that would otherwise be anxiety-causing or frightening. The behavior of avoiding (avoidance behavior) these past traumas and similar situations or triggering events can actually become extreme over time and reduce the quality of the patient’s life.
How is VRET used?
Virtual reality exposure therapy for PTSD has been tested and examined mainly in Vietnam War veterans. The experiences these veterans went through are obviously impossible, and dangerous, to recreate in real life. The use of VRET gives them an option to re-experience war-like scenarios in a safe and controlled way, with a support group or therapist near. The same treatment option can be recreated for any form of PTSD patient.
How can it help?
Being able to recreate these past experiences helps patients face phobias and triggering events with confidence on knowing how to process their emotions when faced with similar situations again. Exposure therapy gives patients the opportunity to learn from their past trauma and increase their quality of life after a traumatic experience.
Of course, recreating each patient’s unique experience can be quite difficult. Recreating these events in real life could endanger a patient’s life as well. In most cases, recreating a traumatic event safely can be nearly impossible. But that’s where VRET comes in.
How does it work?
Virtual reality exposure therapy immerses patients into a computer-generated environment that mimics the patient’s unique experience. This can be experienced through a head-mounted device or through a computer generated room. Each environment can be uniquely programmed based on the patient’s traumatic experience. Then the patient can directly confront the feared situation in a safe way.
The goal of VRET, and any form of exposure therapy, is to minimize the fear and anxiety that a patient experiences when faced with triggering events. This should ultimately, decrease their avoidance behavior for certain situations and increase their quality of life.
We hope to use our virtual reality system at Restored Wings to increase our treatment options for our survivors. Exposure therapy can be intimidating at first but when done in a supportive environment with a great support group, it can have lasting benefits. If you are interested in receiving VRET treatment for PTSD please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have on our contact page.