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New Directions in Virtual Reality-Based Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

This article critically discusses the new trends in virtual reality-based (psycho) therapy for anxiety disorders. After an initial brief presentation of anxiety disorders and their current traditional evidence-based treatments (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapies; CBTs), current models of virtual reality-based therapy are presented and examined. The paper emphasizes that virtual reality-based therapy is not a new form of therapy, but a technological development in the current evidence-based therapies (e.g., virtual reality-based CBTs). New trends in virtual reality-based therapy are also presented. To date, research supports the efficacy of virtual reality-based CBTs for anxiety disorders. The paper also discusses advantages of virtual reality (VR) technologies in (1) clarifying theory/mechanisms of change; (2) potentially reducing costs and increasing access and (3) stimulating more ecological research in the CBT. The need for further studies using VR is also highlighted.