Virtual Reality Treatment

Virtual Reality Treatment for anxiety disorders, the advantages.

Virtual reality treatment for psychological disorders is not new, with the first study being published in 1995. However, it is only now, some twenty plus years later, that virtual reality treatment is readily available to the public.

There is now much research that virtual reality exposure for anxiety disorders is effective in decreasing anxiety symptoms and that the treatment gains generalise to real life.

Advantages of Virtual Reality Treatment

Traditional exposure therapy may involve imaginal exposures which are dependent upon the client being able to effectively imagine their feared scenario (e.g. public speaking, driving a car and having a an accident) or stimulus (e.g. dogs, birds, needles)

Some people are not good at visualizing or imagining scenarios so virtual reality can be very helpful for these people as it eliminates the need for them to use their imagination.

Real life exposures can be:

  • difficult to create or organise if they e.g. require a number of people or animals

  • can be costly (e.g. if you require plane flights to tackle a fear of flying)

  • or impractical (e.g. going to a war zone)

Virtual reality exposures are inexpensive and enable the psychologist to construct exposures that might not be possible in real life.

e.g. someone with a fear of flying could do a virtual flight landing multiple times

Virtual reality gives complete control of the exposure, as the psychologist can control the dose and specific aspects of the exposure to be tailored to the specific client’s feared stimuli and tailor the pace at which the person progresses through exposures.

e.g. if someone has fear of flying and gets on a plane to practice they could not be guaranteed that the plan would not experience turbulence.

Clients may find virtual reality treatment more acceptable than traditional exposure therapy for a number of reasons.


Some phobias such as social phobias (e.g. public speaking) require an audience and some clients do not want to do group therapy because of privacy and confidentiality concerns. Virtual reality exposure enables people with social phobia to immerse themselves in a group environment without having to worry about confidentiality/privacy.


Virtual reality exposure can also be more acceptable to the client as their safety is guaranteed.

e.g. clients with driving phobias may be afraid of having a car accident and therefore be too scared to practice alone, or even with someone accompanying them in the vehicle.

If you would like to try virtual reality exposure for your anxiety disorder call Catherine on 0429 883671.

The use of virtual reality technology in the treatment of anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.

Jessica L. Maples-Keller, Brian E. Bunnell, Sae-Jin Kim and Barbara O. Rothbaum (2017)

Harv Rev Psychiatry. M2017 May-Jun;25(3):1`03-113

4 Good Reason You Should Call Us!

Quick appointments no matter where you live in Australia. Online shyness, public speaking and anxiety treatment available.

Minimal out of pocket expense (Medicare & Health fund Rebates)

Clinical Psychologist with approx. 25 years of experience. Also offering virtual reality exposure therapy.

Business hours, After hours and Saturdays appointments

Frequently Asked Questions

Anxiety Australia is an anxiety clinic in Hawthorn, Melbourne that is run by Catherine Madigan, who is a clinical psychologist. She primarily focuses on treating anxiety disorders and stress management techniques to individuals and businesses through one on one consultations and stress management workshops.

She offers professional, discreet and confidential treatment options that work.

Catherine’s effective anxiety treatments offered in Melbourne can help you overcome disorders such as:

Call now for an appointment on 0429 883 671

The website provides information about anxiety disorders and the treatment options available. You will also find contact details for other psychologists around Australia who have substantial experience in and/or work primarily with anxiety disorders.

Catherine Madigan is a Melbourne based Clinical Psychologist. She is passionate about empowering clients with confidence. The reason her focus is primarily on the treatment of anxiety disorders is that she gains great satisfaction by witnessing the freedom and life changing results her therapies can deliver.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in Australia, with 1/7 people (14% of the population) reporting having had an anxiety disorder in the last 12 months. Women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men, 18% vs 11%. ABS National Survey of Mental Health & Wellbeing, Summary of Results 2007.

Anxiety or fear is a normal response to a present or imagined threat. Mild fear can be helpful as it enables us to respond quickly when faced with a dangerous situation and to be alert in difficult situations (e.g. exams). However, excessive fear may lead to people being paralysed e.g. soldiers under attack may be so afraid they can’t move to take cover, public speakers may find they go blank, forget their lines and are rendered speechless.

Anxiety is a normal emotion as it affects most people and is widespread. You would be abnormal if you didn’t experience fear sometimes. However, if your anxiety is out of proportion to the situation you are experiencing and/or persists in the absence of threat, e.g you worry about events months ahead or are experiencing anxiety long after the danger has passed, you may need professional help.

Some people are more prone to experiencing anxiety than others and it is not caused by just one thing but by a combination of factors including: genetics, family environment and traumatic life experiences. Sufferers may have unhelpful thinking patterns such as perfectionist standards. Nevertheless, you can learn to manage your anxiety more effectively.

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