Willem-Paul Brinkman, Charles van der Mast, Daniel de Vliegher. Virtual reality exposure therapy for social phobia: A pilot study in evoking fear in a virtual world. In Proceedings of HCI2008 workshop - HCI for technology enhanced learning. pages 85-88, Delft University of Technology and Mediamatica, Delft and The Netherlands, 2008.
Social phobia is one of the most commonly occurring anxiety disorders. Standard treatment or training involves gradually exposing patients to social situations they fear. These exposures are however difficult to control for a therapist. An alternative therefore might be to use virtual reality exposure. This paper reports on the design of four social scenarios (a bus stop and a train station and a clothing shop and and a reception desk of a restaurant) implemented in virtual reality. Results of a pilot evaluation with none phobic patients suggest that these worlds might be able to evoke anxiety and and manipulating the verbal and behavioural responses of the human avatars might give therapists the ability to control the level of fear evoking elements in these worlds.