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What’s on the Horizon for 2023? Virtual Reality (VR) Therapy for Fears and Phobias

As 2022 is coming to a close it seems like good time to look back on the past year and forward to 2023. In 2022 there have been a couple of new areas of study in the field of psychology that have intrigued me. They are the use of Psychedelics for the treatment of mental health disorders and the introduction of Virtual Reality for the treatment of phobias. I have spent some time studying both this year. As a psychotherapist I always like to stay on top of new developments in the field so I can provide the best treatment and recommendations to my clients.

Virtual Reality Therapy is an experiential, exposure-based therapy to assist clients in resolving specific anxieties, fears, and phobias.

Some of the issues VR Therapy can treat include:

  •  Fear of Flying

  •  Fear of Driving

  •  Claustrophobia

  •  Fear of Creepy Crawlies

  •  Fear of Needles and Hospitals

  •  Social Anxiety, and

  •  Fear of Heights

VR Therapy has been found to be the next best thing to live exposure!

Although I am in a wait-and-see mode regarding psychedelics, I am fully supportive and excited about using VR in therapy. In fact, I have already begun interviewing and testing out VR headsets and apps and have begun integrating VR into my practice!

VR for the treatment of phobias can be used at home without being in therapy (see Amelia or o’VRcome for more information on the self-help options) or in conjunction with therapy.

In my practice I am using VR Therapy headsets and simulations in conjunction with techniques from all of the following modalities of therapy to create an integrative treatment plan:

  •  Cognitive Behavioral Therapies

  •  Visualization

  •  Mindfulness, Meditation and Breathing

  •  Hypnosis

  •  Exposure Therapy, and

  •  Systematic Desensitization

If you would like to learn more about how VR might help you overcome your fears or phobias feel free to give me a call at 818-309-7780 or visit my website at

The other new area that has intrigued me this year is the use of Psychedelics for the treatment of depression, death fears, addiction and more.

Although the use of psychedelics for expanding one’s consciousness goes back to the 1940’s when Albert Hofmann accidentally discovered the psychoactive ingredient now known as LSD, research was halted (or went underground) in the late-60’s until relatively recently when a new wave of research began. So, although the use of psychedelics in the field of mental health has been around for decades it is only now again being studied in depth. And, in California only Ketamine is available as an approved treatment, while other hallucinogens are only available as part of clinical studies. However, in the mid-term elections Colorado legalized the use of psilocybin and psilocin, which are two of the psychedelic compounds found in “magic mushrooms,” which should also provide a lot of good clinical and real-life knowledge. I look forward to learning more and sharing what I learn with you.

If you would like to learn more about the history and current research around psychedelics on your own, you may want to read How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan (or watch the 4-part Netflix docuseries). You can also find out more about clinical studies through:

I hope that 2022 brought lots of new learning and growth to you and your family and that the

new year opens up even more avenues of growth, self-understanding and peace.

Happy New Year!

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