Phobias treated with virtual realitytherapy at Van Gogh hospital in Marchienne-au-Pont
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    Phobias treated with virtual realitytherapy at Van Gogh hospital in Marchienne-au-Pont

    On Monday, the psychiatric ward of the University Hospital of Charleroi was at Van Gogh Hospital in Marchienne-au-Pont (Charleroi) to present a behavioral therapy unit which will treat phobias with the use of 3D and virtual reality. This method will address various phobias (fear of blood, spiders, elevators, crowds, etc.) but also posttraumatic phobias due to accidents or attacks.

    Besides treatment through pharmacology, other therapies have been studied, but the Van Gogh Hospital is the only one in Belgium to use virtual reality therapy.

    The head of the psychiatric department stated that this therapy is not only to prevent disability but to encourage the patients to gradually gain control of their fears. With the assistance of a clinician, the patient is placed, via 3D, in the visual and acoustic context of what has led to their phobia, causing them to get accustomed to it and eventually overcome it.

    Hospital officials are considering extending the possibilities of this therapy with the help of a graphic designer contracted to rebuild the scenes that will surround the patients. One patient explained the effects of this therapy. Attacked on her way home, she became unable to leave and return from home. Virtual therapy in 3D, with the reconstruction of this scenario in daylight and at night, helped cure this phobia.

    Jonathan Morrison (Source: Belga)