Marius Koller, Licentiate Seminar: Supporting Patients and Therapists in Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

This thesis explores challenges for the design of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) systems. Exposure therapy is the established method for treatment of anxiety disorders and is typically delivered in-vivo, i.e. exposure to phobic stimuli in real environments. Virtual reality (VR) offers the potential to conduct exposure therapy at the clinic. This approach has several benefits in terms of efficiency, customization and control, amount of exposure, and as an transition phase to real situations. However, currently many such systems are limited in scope and are designed for research purposes without informing
the design from therapist’s perspective and practices.

Tid: On 2019-03-06 kl 13.15

Föreläsare: Respondent: Marius Koller

Plats: 1440, Lindstedtsvägen 3, 4th floor

My research aims to contribute towards the understanding of current prac- tices in
exposure therapy and investigates challenges for the design of these systems for the two
main user groups, patients and therapists. Three different focus areas have been
prevalent. First, we studied therapist in real sessions to inform the design and
development of VRET-systems. Second, we evalu- ated two different VRET implementations
supporting therapists to interact with patients. Third, on the patient’s side, we studied
presence on healthy participants focusing on the influence of virtual bodies and patient
movement in VR.

This thesis summarises and discusses these studies. Overall, the studies emphasize the
complexity of exposure therapy and the need for individualized patient conditions. This
poses multiple challenges for the design of VRET- systems such as, first, the systems must
offer flexibility for the therapists to orchestrate individualized therapy. Second, the
systems must enable rich therapists-patient interaction. Third, the complexity of
individualization of scenarios and sessions must be addressed in the design of the
therapist’s in- terface. Fourth, for patients it was found that their virtual
representation influences presence differently depending on the scenario. Fith, locomotion
is challenging as offices are typically small.

Title: Supporting Patients and Therapists in Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
Respondent: Marius Koller
Discussant: Willem-Paul Brinkman, TU Delft
Examiner: Andre Holzapfel
Supervisors: Cristian Bogdan, Gerrit Meixner, Chiara Rossitto, Anders Lundström