The use of VR applications as specific virtual environment started from the observation, shared by the operators in the field of Pathological Addictions and Psychiatry, that many people show great difficulty with the ‘standard’ psychotherapeutic approach and with the frequent misuse of psychopharmacological therapies usually prescribed. This also explains the phenomenon that too often characterizes such pathological pictures: continuous or frequent re-entering into therapy, without lasting success.
Since many years, the VR literature has demonstrated the effectiveness, in a reasonably short time, of a guided and repeated exposure to VR environments. The subject can experiment, in a virtual world, his/her difficult life situations, discuss with expert psychotherapists about his/her feelings during the VR experience and increase his/her level of awareness of his/her own resources and of the consequences of his/her compulsive actions.
Even in the area of Phobias and Anxiety Disorders (social or relational, widespread or specific) and in the PTDS, VR exposure has demonstrated its effectiveness especially when coupled with a parallel psychotherapy treatment.
The strength of the immersion in a VR environment is represented by two main characteristics: immersion and the sense of presence.
Thanks to these two characteristics, the person who enters a VR environment lives a highly emotional and participatory experience.
The protection and safety of this virtual exposure is represented by the constant guidance of an expert psychotherapist, who witnesses the VR experience, and who will then help the subject to reflect on the outcomes of the immersion in the VR environment and to increase his/her level of awareness. The strength to live this kind of experience, as if it were real, allows the subject to overcome the difficulty of verbal confrontation, often inhibited or strongly constrained.