“People suffering from social anxiety could be helped to overcome their fears by viewing themselves taking part in virtual scenarios, research from the University of East Anglia suggests.
New imaging technology allowed six participants to rehearse their behaviour in a range of social settings.
They were able to practice small talk and maintain eye contact, for example.
Researchers said it could be used with cognitive behavioural therapy.
UEA researchers created more than 100 different virtual scenarios, such as using public transport, buying a drink at a bar, socialising at a party, shopping, and talking to a stranger in an art gallery.
Paul Strickland, of Xenodu, the company behind the virtual environment system, said it was designed to cater for the needs of socially anxious people.
“It isn’t a head-mounted display, which anxious people may find uncomfortable.
“Instead, the user observes from an out-of-body perspective. They can then simultaneously view themselves and interact with the characters of the film.”
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22994671
More info: Virtual Environments using Video-Capture for Social Phobia with Psychosis (Gega L. et al. 2013) http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/cyber.2013.1510