top of page
  • Writer's pictureBegin Within

Beat Anxiety, Addiction, and Stress—How VR is Changing Mental Health with Daniel Andreev





Virtual reality (VR) tools have gotten much better and cheaper over the last few years. Now regular people can buy things like the Meta Quest 2 headset and have awesome VR experiences at home. Daniel Andreev had the idea to use this new technology to help people struggling with fears, trauma and other mental health issues.

Andreev helped start a company named PsyTech VR that uses virtual reality to help therapists treat their patients. In my recent podcast interview with Daniel, he told the story about how the idea came to him:

“One day a man came to see Daniel’s mom, who is a therapist. She tried to help him overcome his fear of heights using guided imagery. But the man had a hard time picturing the scenarios in his mind. He got frustrated and ended the session early."

Since imagination is so important for therapies like this, PsyTech realized VR could help therapists a lot. By creating simulated environments, therapists can now fully immerse their patients in treatments in a safe, repeatable way.


How Can VR Help Therapy?

Andreev explained lots of ways VR can help treat phobias, PTSD, anger problems, addictions and more:

“The patient wears a VR headset and the therapist can see and control everything they experience on their computer.”
“VR lets patients safely practice things in realistic situations - this works much better than just imagining something.”

VR also lets therapists try creative new ideas:

“We made AI that creates custom relaxing VR worlds when patients describe what helps them feel peaceful. This helps folks stay calm before and after therapies like EMDR [Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing].”

VR Helps People Face Their Fears

One of the main ways VR aids therapy is by helping patients gradually face irrational fears. Andreev said:

“Real life exposure to fears can be dangerous. Just imagining them limits how real they feel. VR provides the safest, most realistic practice.”

He described how VR lets therapists easily customize fear-facing:

“With one click, a therapist could bring someone from a scary driving simulation to a peaceful beach when they get overwhelmed.”

This total control over the experience takes fear-facing to the next level. VR also makes fears feel more believable than just trying to picture them. Andreev pointed out:

“Using 360 videos of realistic triggers elicits reactions that are hard to imagine. This intensifies therapy.”

VR Boosts EMDR and Trauma Treatment

In addition to boosting regular therapy, Andreev talked about using VR for EMDR trauma treatment:

“We can display the traumatic event, then directly show the eye movements patients follow to reprocess it. VR also adds synchronized sights, sounds and vibrations that improve EMDR.”

He also described a creative VR approach to help patients relax:

“It’s hard for trauma survivors to picture calming places. Our AI tech builds custom peaceful VR worlds when they can’t visualize.”

Key Things to Remember

Andreev covered lots of cool ways VR can help people work through mental health issues. Here are the big ideas:

  • VR takes fear-facing to the next level - it's safer and feels more realistic than imagination. This works much better to treat phobias, anxiety, OCD and more.

  • VR boosts EMDR trauma therapy through perfectly-timed sensory cues tuned to each patient.

  • Custom relaxing VR worlds help trauma patients feel peaceful when they struggle to picture calming places.

  • Therapists can precisely control VR scenarios to optimize treatment intensity.

  • VR reactions are impossible to imagine - this makes therapies for addiction, anger issues, etc. more successful.

The future looks very bright for using technology like VR to improve mental healthcare and help people suffering from emotional issues feel better. PsyTech VR’s work gives an exciting glimpse into that future!


Learn more about Daniel's work at https://www.psytechvr.com/

1 view0 comments

Comments


bottom of page