Description: If you have a serious (phobic) fear of spiders you are probably NOT reading this because the title or the picture has caused you to move along quickly. If you have such a fear and have taken an introductory psychology course you have likely heard about systematic desensitization which is the standard, classical conditioning-based approach for treating basic phobias and you may have decided that they are not for you because they typically involve getting closer and closer to real spiders as part of the treatment process. However, what if it were possible to treat spider phobias (arachnophobia) without using real spiders (or Halloween props). Would that be of interest to you (or to your friend who refused to read this post for the reasons just presented)? Think about what that might involve and then read the article linked below to see how Swiss researchers have studied this very approach.
Source: Augmented Reality Helps Tackle Fear of Spiders, Neuroscience News.
Date: September 26, 2021
So, are you ready to try a free meeting with Phoby? Or perhaps you can convince your acrophobic friend to give it a try. As with virtually all treatments for psychological issues or disorders the most important two steps include admitting the there is a problem and then committing to taking steps to address the issue. The second step is typically the most challenging, especially with phobias, as those struggling with them work Very hard to avoid situations that might result in their being exposed to their fear inducing situation, object, or animal. The results of the Phoby research are promising and, perhaps by utilizing more complex virtual reality systems such as Facebooks Oculus system it may be possible to devise accessible phobia treatments for phobias that are rather difficult or expensive to address directly such as fear of airplane travel.
Questions for Discussion:
- Why might the people who would benefit the most from the treatment described in the linked article NOT even become aware of it?
- Why might the treatment with Phoby work when classic desensitization procedures not work when treating arachnophobias?
- What other phobias might be treatable using more sophisticated virtual reality systems? How would such treatment be structured?
References (Read Further):
Zimmer, A., Wang, N., Ibach, M. K., Fehlmann, B., Schicktanz, N. S., Bentz, D., … & de Quervain, D. J. (2021). Effectiveness of a smartphone-based, augmented reality exposure app to reduce fear of spiders in real-life: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 82, 102442. Link
McGlynn, F. D., Weiner, I. B., & Craighead, W. E. (2002). Systematic desensitization. Editors-in-Chief. Link
Côté, S., & Bouchard, S. (2008). Virtual reality exposure for phobias: A critical review. Journal of CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation, 1(1), 75-91. Link
Hodges, L. F., Kooper, R., Meyer, T. C., Rothbaum, B. O., Opdyke, D., Graaff, J. J. D., … & North, M. M. (1995). Virtual environments for treating the fear of heights. IEEE computer, 28(7), 27-34. Link
Herdiansyaha, M., & Sumampouwb, N. J. (2017, September). Systematic Desensitization for Treating Specific Phobia of Earthworms: An In Vivo Exposure Study. In 1st International Conference on Intervention and Applied Psychology (ICIAP 2017) (pp. 381-390). Atlantis Press. Link
Beauchamp, M., Greenfield, M. D., & Campobello, L. Treatment of Flying Phobia: Comparative Efficacy of Two Behavioral Methods. Link