One of the primary means of treating post-traumatic stress disorder is a form of therapy that encourages veterans to revisit their most traumatic experiences. Some research suggests reliving those experiences through a virtual world could also help. Here’s how:
Prolonged exposure therapy:
Patients repeatedly talk through traumatic memories to reduce the fear associated with them and to process emotions that arise. This also often involves “in vivo” exposure in which patients practice real-life situations that may cause them anxiety — common stressors for veterans include being in a crowd or driving — to lessen the distress these triggers cause.
Virtual reality exposure therapy:
A 360-degree interactive virtual reality system is used during therapy to help patients relive memories from Iraq and Afghanistan. The system can be tailored to their specific experiences. Small studies have found it is an effective tool in treatment.