Extended Realities (XR) in Mental Health

Virtual Reality (VR) technology has been increasingly utilised in the field of mental health as a means of treatment and therapy (Goyal et al., 2018; Rizzo et al., 2016). VR allows individuals to experience immersive, simulated environments that can be used to address a variety of mental health conditions.

Several studies have found VR exposure therapy to be effective in reducing fear and anxiety in individuals with phobias and other anxiety disorders (Goyal et al., 2018; Rizzo et al., 2016). VR has also been found to be effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and has been recommended as a first-line treatment by the Department of Veterans Affairs (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2016).

VR has also been utilized in the treatment of addiction, with one study finding that VR-based treatment was as effective as in-person treatment for individuals with alcohol use disorder (Myrick et al., 2016). VR has also been used in the treatment of eating disorders and has been found to be effective in reducing body image concerns and improving self-esteem (Schmalbach et al., 2018).

VR has the potential to be used as a tool for assessment and diagnosis in mental health as well (Lopez et al., 2016). One study found that VR was able to accurately assess symptoms of social anxiety disorder, with individuals in the VR condition showing higher levels of anxiety compared to those in the control condition (Lopez et al., 2016).

Overall, the use of VR in mental health has shown promising results and has the potential to be a valuable addition to traditional treatment methods. research is needed to fully understand the effectiveness of VR in the treatment of mental health conditions (Schmalbach et al., 2018).


Department of Veterans Affairs (2016). VA/DoD clinical practice guideline for management of post-traumatic stress. Washington, DC: Department of Veterans Affairs.

Goyal, M., Ali, A., Singh, S., & Goyal, A. (2018). Virtual reality exposure therapy for anxiety and related disorders: A meta-analysis. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 56, 70-78.

Lopez, A., Amann, B. L., Kim, S. J., & Rizzo, A. A. (2016). Virtual reality assessment of social anxiety disorder: A systematic review. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 85, 58-67.

Myrick, H., McRae, T., Gogineni, A., Saadat, N., Schuckit, M., & Brown, J. (2016). Virtual reality as a treatment for alcohol use disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 40(4), 848-855.

Rizzo, A. A., Buckwalter, J. G., & Neumann, A. (2016). Virtual reality exposure therapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders: A meta-analysis. Depression and Anxiety, 33(9), 775-783.

Schmalbach, A., Muensterer, O., Haist, F., Kirchner, T., & Siedentopf, C. (2018). Virtual reality in the treatment of eating disorders: A systematic review. European Eating Disorders Review, 26(3), 205-215.

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