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Co-Located Virtual Exposure Therapy: A Multi-User Mixed Reality Approach

Activity: Talk or presentation at external institutions/eventsTalk/PresentationContributed

Persons and affiliations


12 Apr 2023


With the recent addition of virtual reality based exposure therapies (VRET) to the German treatment guidelines for specific phobias and social anxiety disorder, use of VRET for some disorders can be considered to have reached a certain degree of maturity (Bandelow et al., 2022).
However, while many therapies are founded on the building of a strong communicative relationship between patient and therapist, current VR therapies tend to be single-user experiences, with the patient venturing alone into the virtual world and the therapist providing guidance from the outside. Not only is the virtual experience not shared, but due to the isolating nature of the technology, natural communication between patient and therapist is restricted.
To address this, whilst maintaining VRs capacity to stimulate realistic responses to certain stressful stimuli, we propose a multi-user mixed-reality platform for exposure treatment, allowing for shared virtual experiences between patient and therapist. With mixed reality allowing participants to see one another directly, the system permits more natural communication and interaction between patient and therapist. In considering multi-user mixed reality as fundamentally a tool for communication, we aim for interactions that more closely resemble those found in early states of in vivo-exposure therapy.
We will present a prototype and initial evaluation of an exposure treatment-centered multiuser extended reality (MUXR) system that allows for:
• Shared, coherent, and co-located experiences in both virtual and mixed reality,
• Natural communication and interaction between users,
• Remote and on-site psychotherapy,
• Smooth, flexible transitions from real to virtual world, and
• Monitoring of physiological arousal parameters.


TitleWürtual Reality XR Meeting
Duration11 - 13 April 2023
LocationJulius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg