Low-cost virtual reality to support imaginal exposure within PTSD treatment: A case report study within a community mental healthcare setting

Paul Best*, Sengul Kupeli-Holt, John D'Arcy, Adam Elliot, Michael Duffy, Tom Van Daele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Revisiting what happened during (or after) a traumatic event is an important part of the treatment process in trauma-focused cognitive therapy (TF-CT). However, clinicians may have difficulty helping patients to intentionally retrieve these memories in order to engage with their content. As such, clinical tools to support the access and delivery of imaginal exposure content within treatment may prove to be particularly useful for therapists. This case report introduces work undertaken with Mr A, a 38-year-old male, who two years prior had experienced a city centre assault. Initial assessment revealed a PCL-5 score of 64 and he met DSM-5 criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Mr A received 10 sessions of TF-CT wherein the traditional imaginal exposure components were implemented via a newly developed Virtual Reality (VR) development workflow called ‘VR Photoscan’. After 10 sessions, results showed PCL-5 scores decreased from 64 to 19 and Mr A no longer met DSM-5 PTSD criteria. VR Photoscan, was used during 4/10 sessions and included (1) reliving; (2) memory updating and (3) stimulus discrimination activities. Mr A also reported VR Photoscan as helpful regarding preparation for site visits. In conclusion, VR Photoscan technology provided a more visceral exposure experience which supported Mr A to revisit the trauma memory. He reported high levels of satisfaction with the quality of the virtual environment and no issues using the VR technology. Produced with lower-costs and shorter development times than typical computer- generated environments, VR Photoscan may be more easily implemented within routine care although further research is required.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Practice
Early online date24 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 24 May 2023

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