Project Description

In February of 2023, Dr. Chris Shelton, assistant professor of clinical psychology and director of the VAR Lab, hosted an immersive classroom integration in VAR Edu for his PSYCH 519: Theories and Models of Psychotherapy. 10 students were able to attend during the event which was held outside of the course’s regularly scheduled time. Virtual reality has long been used in the field of psychology as a way for patients to overcome fears and traumatic events by experiencing and working through these problems in a safe environment. To gain a better understanding of this concept students in his class had the opportunity to experience exposure therapy within Virtual Reality for themselves. 

Students had the opportunity to utilize two virtual reality programs designed to simulate real-life situations and offer users a chance to tackle common fears: Richie’s Plank Experience and Arachnophobia. Richie’s Plank Experience involved navigating a virtual plank at dizzying heights, while Arachnophobia exposed users to virtual spiders. For Dr. Shelton’s students, this experience proved distinctive as it allowed them to personally witness the efficacy of virtual reality in addressing mental health concerns, specifically through exposure therapy.