When you think of virtual reality, you might immediately think of gaming, however virtual reality has an important role to play in therapy.

In our specially designed space at Asana Lodge, clients can use headsets and immersive software to explore various therapeutic settings.

What is virtual reality therapy?

Virtual reality therapy is where the latest virtual reality technology is utilised and implemented into a treatment programme. Predominantly used after the completion of initial physical and psychological treatment, virtual reality therapy is used to examine and maintain recovery.

Utilised for addiction, anxiety disorders, avoidance behaviour disorders, and specific phobias, virtual reality therapy provides a virtual environment for trials and tests to take place. Once clients have completed an initial round of treatment, where causations and triggers are pinpointed, virtual reality exposure therapy will test the strength and success of those treatments when considering trigger exposure. Physiological responses and psychological dependencies will be measured to gauge progress, along with the suitability of treatments.

Although brand-new to many individuals, it is important that clients keep an open mind when completing virtual reality therapy. This is an effective treatment to ensure that recovery is achievable. Prior to virtual reality technology, this test was completed post-rehab, once a return to old vulnerabilities was made. This approach to tests is high-risk, sometimes resulting in a relapse. Through the advancement of technology, tests can be made in advance through virtual environments, providing greater accuracy rates for recovery.

Here at Asana Lodge, we vouch for the benefits linked to virtual therapy. Offering exposure therapy for PTSD, anxiety and depression, substance abuse and phobias is very important. This will ensure that psychological responses have been realigned. Through our non-traditional approach to treatment, including virtual reality, we can offer greater recovery rates.

How can virtual reality help addiction and mental health recovery?

Backed by the Institute for Creative Technologies, utilising virtual therapy carries many benefits when considering addiction and mental health recovery.

Firstly, virtual technology will help gauge the progress of recovery, at an effective period. Post rehab is when many individuals will firstly experience their underlying trigger. This will test whether treatment has worked for addiction or mood disorders. This approach is very risky and can result in immediate relapses. By creating a virtual environment mirroring real life, this test can be made. Environments can be enhanced through the senses, including smell, visuals and communication.

For example, if an individual is recovering from social anxiety, social interaction can be tested through virtual reality. Likewise, for those who are triggered by drug and alcohol influences, such as stress, those stressors can be experienced, testing the degree of cravings. Although exposure to triggers may be experienced, this will be offered in a safe therapy session. Likewise, offering virtual therapy through rehab will significantly reduce future relapses.

Secondly, virtual reality therapy will help clients form natural, highly effective coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms are commonly communicated across rehab. Yet, their effectiveness will be measured when real life resumes. Through virtual reality exposure therapy, clients can home in on their coping mechanisms, helping to prepare for life beyond residential rehab.

For example, a favoured coping mechanism for some individuals is remaining active. Physical activity can combat negative feelings or cravings. The effectiveness of these coping mechanisms will usually be measured once faced with a trigger, post-rehab. Yet, through virtual therapy, physical activity can be activated, helping to gauge its strength. For some individuals, this may not be enough, resulting in negative thoughts or drug and alcohol cravings. In this instance, coping mechanisms will be strengthened, with the helping hand of virtual reality.

As an addiction or mood disorder affects all clients differently, virtual reality also offers the ability to personalise treatment programmes and coping mechanisms. By visually identifying how psychological and physiological responses present themselves, this will provide an accurate insight for treatment specialists. Likewise, it can offer a timeline for recovery, identified through virtual reality therapy progression.

Additional treatments here at Asana Lodge

Virtual reality therapy can offer significant insight when considering the maintenance of recovery and the avoidance of relapses. However, to ensure that initial recovery can be achieved, additional treatments will be required.

Here at Asana Lodge, we offer a wide range of traditional and non-traditional treatment options. Based on their effectiveness for personal progression, treatment recommendations will be made. However, to make these recommendations, greater evaluation of an addiction or mood disorder must be made. Through measuring biological, spiritual, psychological and social factors, our team will aim to understand the underlying causation, resulting in abnormal behaviours, emotions and outlooks.

Once an evaluation has been completed, treatments will be recommended, commonly promoting physical and psychological recovery. This is where virtual reality therapy can come into play, helping to measure the effectiveness of treatment options, based on evaluation data.

In tandem, virtual therapy can strengthen aspects of rehab, including coping mechanism sessions and relapse prevention techniques. Both very important to continue recovery, virtual reality therapy can help to strengthen their makeup.

For more information on recovering here at Asana Lodge, or to consider virtual reality therapy, get in touch with our team today. We will complete an initial evaluation to measure the effectiveness of virtual reality.

Although it is a new concept, virtual reality therapy can offer recovery success if utilised correctly.