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Acrophobia, or the fear of heights, is characterized by an irrational fear of height situations resulting in the avoidance of such situations or the confrontation of such situations with marked distress. This fear for some is endured with distress, whereas for others the fear is so intense that height situations must be avoided altogether. Some may not be able to see a physician if his office is on the fifth floor, will not take a job because the office is on the tenth floor, or will not visit friends that move into an apartment three stories up.

At the VRMC, acrophobia can be treated with the use of virtual reality exposure therapy. After relaxation training and discussion about what situations produce anxiety, the client is exposed to progressively higher anxiety virtual environments. These may include a virtual construction elevator, hotel elevators. As the client progresses, stimuli such as wind, vibration and sound can be added to create further realism.

Before progressing, each stage can be repeated until the client is comfortable with the experience and satisfied with their response. At every step, the therapist can see and hear what the client is experiencing in the virtual world and can monitor physiological response. If the client's level of anxiety becomes overwhelming, they can return to a less stressful level of treatment, or simply remove the head-mounted display and exit the virtual world.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call our front office at 1-866-822-VRMC.

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