From virtual reality to interreality in the treatment of anxiety disordersAuthor(s): Claudia Repetto, Giuseppe Riva
A virtual reality system is a combination of technological devices that allows users to create, explore and interact with 3D environments. In recent years, virtual reality has been increasingly employed in the treatment of anxiety disorders, since it offers the opportunity to carry out exposure-based programs that bypass the limitations that occur during both in vivo exposure and imaginal exposure. The introduction of a new therapeutic approach called interreality has brought us one step further towards e-health. If virtual worlds are considered as ‘closed’ experiences, separated from thoughts and emotions experienced by the patient in the real life, interreality, conversely, is an advanced technological tool whose main novelty is the creation of a hybrid, closed-loop, empowering experience bridging both the physical and virtual worlds. This article will discuss the use of virtual reality and interreality for clinical purposes, and will present the outcomes of different clinical trials that applied these tools in the field of anxiety disorders.