IMMERSE: Interactive Multi-sensory Memory Exposure & Rehabilitation SEssions

In this project, a virtual reality application will be developed and tested to aid in the treatment of PTSD.

Virtual reality application for PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the focal points of research in our department. First line treatment for PTSD comprises of trauma-focused psychological treatment in which the traumatic memories are explored and addressed with a therapist. Reliving the traumatic memory is a crucial part of the therapeutic process, and can be hampered by avoidance.

Virtual reality (VR) applications can help with overcoming avoidance due to their immersive character. Besides visual stimuli being delivered through a head-mounted display, the addition of smells, sounds, wind and heat will create a more vivid recollection. Since the therapist is seated at the control panel, the intensity of the session can be regulated through constant communication between patient and therapist.

In his project, called IMMERSE (Interactive Multi-sensory Memory Exposure & Rehabilitation SEssions) we will combine new eye-tracking techniques with interactive VR elements to create an application in which patients can explore memories together with their therapist.
We will focus on two research questions. How do people experience the VR sessions? And, do VR-delivered therapy sessions lead to a reduction of PTSD symptoms?

Project overview

Objective: How are VR-delivered therapy sessions experienced and do they reduce PTSD symptoms.
Target group: Military personnel and veterans (18-60 years) who are being treated for PTSD.
Time course: The research will start in the course of 2021.
Results: The first results are expected in 2023.