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Clinical and Research News
Psychiatrist Envisions High-Tech Phobia Treatment
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 13 page 45-45

Virtual reality has expanded the treatment possibilities for patients living with phobias and other mental disorders, according to Ian Alger, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Cornell University's Weill Medical College.

Alger is on the program committee of the Virtual Reality Meets Medicine Conference, at which researchers and medical professionals converge to discuss new treatment strategies and medical education techniques that use virtual reality.

In the case of phobias, "patients used to have to go into an anxiety-provoking situation in the real world to become desensitized," Alger said. "But now they can confront the fear-provoking situation in a clinical setting, over and over—our patients can now extinguish these fear patterns in an office."

Ultimately, many phobia patients are able to develop new ways of reacting to and coping with the fear-invoking stimulus, he said.

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