HRSA GRANT PROVIDES VIRTUAL REALITY THERAPY AT HOPEHEALTH
FLORENCE, S.C. (May 20, 2019) – Behavioral health team members at HopeHealth recently completed training on virtual reality exposure therapy and have begun using the treatment in Behavioral Health Services at HopeHealth on Palmetto Street.
Virtual reality therapy uses body tracking devices, visual displays, and vibrotactile sensory input to immerse patients in a real-time computer-generated virtual environment. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of virtual reality technology for treating a variety of difficulties. It is used as a tool to enhance cognitive-behavioral therapy and is a successful and time-limited treatment for a number of psychological difficulties.
“Exposure therapy has been used for decades as a highly effective, evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders including phobias, social anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder,” said Farrah Hughes, director of Behavioral Health Services at HopeHealth. “With this virtual reality equipment, our therapists can make this highly effective treatment more widely available to those who need it.”
Hughes and members of the HopeHealth behavioral health team were trained on-site in early April by psychologist Dr. Judith Cukor, an expert in virtual reality exposure therapy from Cornell, and Jonathan Huff, a technology engineer from Virtually Better, Inc.
The technology was purchased with funds from a grant provided by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and means that therapists in behavioral health have access to the latest technology to enhance psychotherapeutic treatment. The treatment can be used for:
- Exposure therapy for phobias and various traumatic experiences
- Relapse prevention training for substance use disorders
- Exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder, particularly for combat veterans
- Mindfulness training
This technology also provides immersive relaxation and mindfulness training to help overcome symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other difficulties, and to improve emotional well-being.