Virtual reality embodies an amalgamation of various technological devices: a computer able to provide a three-dimensional interactive visualization, a head-mounted visual display, and data gloves with one or several position trackers. These trackers sense the orientation and the position of the user, and record the information on the computer machine that goes ahead to update the images so that they can be displayed in real time (Garcia-Palacios et al., 983-993). Generally, VR defines a group of technologies that are used together to interact successfully with 3D automated databases simultaneously by the use of natural skills and senses. All the same, when we change our focus to the behavioral sciences, we get a different perception of VR. In behavioral sciences, VR is defined as a kind of human-computer link that is advanced to allow the user to interact with and get involved in a computer-prompted environment in a fashion that is natural.
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Actually, psychologists make use of particular technologies like tracking systems, gloves, head-mounted displays, earphones and other haptic response to offer a new pattern of human-computer interaction. In virtual reality, users are not merely external observers of such impressions provided by the computer monitor but are, on the contrary, actively involved in a computer-centered virtual world in 3D form. There are core characteristics attached to virtual reality in the inclusive connection between the virtual environment and the participant where there is a direct experience of the virtual environment comprises communication. Based on these positions, VR can be taken as the leading edge of an absolute evolution of current interfaces of communication like telephone, computers and television, whose end objective is the absolute engagement of the human sensorimotor ways into a clear and universal communication encounter. This well clarifies the authentic VR role in psychotherapy and the common relationship between the various clinical uses that VR gathers and integrates various inputs and data sets in one real-like encounter (Eichenberg, 6-11).
Virtual Reality in Psychotherapy
Virtual reality (VR) has in the recent past been a very useful way of providing specialty and general health care to the human race. VR seems to be fully incorporated in the delivery of psychotherapy. It is undoubtedly that VR could end up being a part of clinical psychology in future. It is therefore imperative to define VR to all psychotherapists. To make sure that there is good VR development and application, clinicians should well understand the challenges and opportunities that VR present in professional engagement. There is much research in clinical practice that is aimed at developing virtual environments for utilization in psychotherapy (Eichenberg, 6-11). Thus, VR can be applied in various clinical perspectives to enhance the therapeutic change processes and procedures.
Virtual reality has been very useful in phobias treatment. Virtual environments have in the past been used to offer acrophobic patients experiences that produce fear in a very safe scenario. Additionally, virtual reality exposure (VRE) therapy has been advocated as a new way of exposure therapy. The idea behind the application of VRE is very clear; while using VR, the patient is confronted purposefully with the feared stimuli allowing the fear to attenuate. Ignoring a dreaded condition further reinforces all kinds of phobias (Garcia-Palacios et al., 983-993). At the same time, each exposure in essence mitigates fear by the way of habituation processes and extinction. Additionally, VRE provides various advantages as it can be applied in conventional therapeutic scenarios. Again, it is a well-managed and affordable process compared to others. In various controlled studies, VRE was a very useful therapy in acrophobia treatment among other conditions of a similar nature.
Psychotherapy has seen major developments, and the changes that are anticipated just like with the use of virtual reality will greatly impact patients, psychologists and psychotherapy at large. Specifically, the use of virtual reality and automated therapies has featured in psychotherapy along with common therapeutic practices of homework assignments, problem solving strategies and relapse techniques. Conventional psychotherapy procedures like paradoxical and hypnosis interventions, and dream interpretation as well are largely being replaced by VR (Eichenberg, 6-11). Their application in psychotherapy is slowly fading away as VR engagement is conversely taking the stage.
These changes have send provocative messages in psychotherapy, and technology is found to be taking a center stage in what was initially known to be an area characterized by social science. Technology is playing a significant role in the manner in which human beings converse, live and relate (Eichenberg, 6-11). There has been a rampant use of e-mail, video teleconferencing and the Internet technologies in diagnosis, education, therapy and training. All the same, the likely influence of virtual reality in the area of psychotherapy is reaching far and wide more than the communication strategies listed above. In the real sense, VR is ideally a communication interface technology and a very compelling encounter. There is much research that has been carried out in the area of virtual reality. The PSYCINFO psychology website has hundreds of journal articles on VR. These articles have been written in the recent and, more specifically, within the last decade.
It is evident that there is an increasing trend in the application of virtual reality in clinical psychotherapy. Information technology as applied in VR has much contributed to the development of psychotherapy by cutting down treatment costs. The trend does not seem to end any time soon. All the same, there are hurdles that are being experienced still. All that is needed is a standardized procedure, the VR softwares and devices as well. The PC-based facilities even though they are easy to apply and cheap, still are plagued by the lack of capabilities and flexibility required to personalize the environments for each individual patient.
In the contemporary world, there are not many different VR systems on offer that can be said to be interoperable. This has made their use very hard in some areas other than the ones where they were established. Again, there is the absence of standardized procedures that can be shared by the research community. There is need for a variety of published clinical procedures before an informed conclusion can be made on which way to follow. The cost needed to set up trials is also a major concern. Just like there are no interoperable systems, this issue needs to be addressed. Lastly, the introduction of clinicians and patients to virtual environments raises the issues of ethics and safety. Actually, despite the progress made in VR technology, a number of users will still encounter safety and health problems linked with the users of VR technology. Well, if these issues are dealt with, then VR will find a major application in the world of psychotherapy with full force. Much research done on the same will see of progress in clinical psychology and in psychotherapy to be exact.