Fears, Phobias, & Disorders
|Fear of Closed Spaces||Fear of Thunderstorms|
|Fear of Driving||School Phobia (Avoidance/Refusal)|
|Fear of Flying||Social Phobia (offered in San Diego & Palo Alto only)|
|Fear of Heights||Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)|
|Fear of Needles and Blood||Panic Disorder|
|Fear of Open Spaces||Flying Anticipatory Anxiety|
|Fear of Public Speaking||Anxiety Disorders|
|Fear of Spiders||Pain Distraction|
Licensed Psychologists & Physicians
Brenda K. Wiederhold – La Jolla
Professor Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCB, BCN is President of the Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC), with offices in Sorrento Valley, La Jolla and Coronado, California; Qingdao, China; and Brussels, Belgium. Professor Wiederhold is registered as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with the California Board of Psychology and the Belgian Commission des Psychologues. Her doctorate is in Clinical Health Psychology, and she is Board Certified in both Biofeedback and Neurofeedback. She is Chief Executive Officer of the Interactive Media Institute, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the application of advanced technologies for patient care; a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD; Medical Staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla; a Visiting Professor at the Catholic University in Milan and an Advisory Board Member for the International Child Art Foundation in Washington, DC.
Founder of the international CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy, & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY), now celebrating its 23rd year, she also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the MedLine-indexed CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking Journal (CYBER) published by Mary Ann Liebert Publishers in New York. She has over 300 scientific publications and is currently completing her 18th book. Recognized as an international leader in the treatment of stress-related disorders, burnout, pain and anxiety (panic, posttraumatic stress disorder and phobias) with Virtual Reality exposure, biofeedback and cognitive-behavioral therapy, in 1996 she conducted the first randomised controlled clinical trial using VR and biosensors to treat fear of flying. In 2006 she conducted the first randomised controlled clinical trial using VR to treat Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from PTSD. She has conducted over 10,000 VR therapy sessions and given invited lectures and training programs in 29 countries throughout Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East.
Professor Wiederhold works to inform and educate policymakers, funding agencies, world leaders, the scientific community and general public about the transformative impact technology can have on healthcare. A U.S. citizen, Dr. Wiederhold has lived and worked in Asia, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium.
Mark Wiederhold – Sorrento Valley
Chief Executive Officer
Mark D. Wiederhold, M.D., Ph.D., CPE, FACP, FACPE serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC), a professional medical corporation with offices in San Diego, La Jolla and Coronado, California; Brussels, Belgium and Qingdao, China. In 1998 he founded the CyberPsychology & Behavior Journal (now called CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking), a “must read” for psychologists, sociologists, designers, and developers of Internet technology, mobile devices, and online and virtual games, as well as business executives, educators, and opinion leaders interested in the effects of interactive technologies. Prior to establishing VRMC, he was an internist at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla for fifteen years. He has a Ph.D. in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and was on the faculty of Rush Medical College where he earned his M.D. degree. Dr. Wiederhold serves on numerous scientific and technical advisory committees and panels, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP) and Fellow of the American College of Physician Executives (FACPE). He has completed over 300 publications, and serves as a reviewer for the Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health. He is also a member of the international advisory board for the International Child Art Foundation’s Virtual Creativity Playground.
Dennis P. Wood – Coronado
Dennis Patrick Wood, Ph.D., ABPP is a Clinical Psychologist practicing in Coronado, California (CA). Dr. Wood is also a Board Certified Clinical Psychologist with the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). As an experienced Clinical Psychologist, practicing in Coronado, CA, Dr. Wood not only possesses an extensive training career while on active duty in the U.S. Navy and while affiliated with the Naval Reserves, but also Dr. Wood gained invaluable experience working with and treating U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps personnel. Dr. Wood has acquired specialized knowledge in the areas of diagnosis and treating depression, anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma. Dr. Wood’s practice focuses on the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of a variety of mental health difficulties. Dr. Wood also completes psychological disability evaluations for Veterans who are seeking disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs due to a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/Post Traumatic Stress, Major Depressive Disorder and/or Anxiety Disorder.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are phobias?
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. Phobias can be divided into three categories: social phobia, agoraphobia and specific phobia. Social phobia is a fear of being judged in social or performance situations. Agoraphobia is a fear of public places and open spaces. Specific phobia is a fear of a specific object or situation, such as airplanes, spiders or heights. Click here to learn more about phobias and anxiety disorders.
2. How do I begin the treatment process?
You will sit down with the therapist and talk about any questions that may be present. Together both of you will discuss what will be done as part of the program. You will also discuss what you would like to accomplish through treatment. A full history and clinical assessment will also be provided. You will then learn relaxation techniques and diaphragmatic breathing skills as a means to ease fear and stress levels. Please visit our About Us page for more information.
3a. What licensing do the therapists have?
3b. What training and experience do the therapists have in this area?
Please visit our staff page to get to know the therapists at the clinic near you.
4. What are the clinical procedures at the VRMC?
Non-invasive sensors used to measure your heart rate, breathing rate, sweat gland activity and skin temperature. The therapist will then explain visual feedback of physiology to you. You will learn to control your breathing rate and heart rate, and cognitive coping techniques will be taught before placing you into the VR world. Please visit our About Us page for more information.
5. Are you able to prescribe medication to me if I need it?
There is a psychiatrist available at the Los Angeles clinic who can prescribe medication to patients who are pursuing that treatment option. Though the therapists at the other clinics do have doctorates in psychology, they are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication to you. However, the therapists at each clinic have close ties to psychiatrists and internal medicine specialists in the area and can refer you to those professionals should you wish.
6. What will happen during therapy?
Please visit our About Us page for more information.
7. How many sessions are required?
The following price list is according to comparable rates in the area. The intake session is 90 minutes long and consists of a diagnostic interview and lessons on anxiety management. Every regular session thereafter is 45-50 minutes consisting of either continued psychotherapy or VR exposure. On average, patients complete treatment by scheduling once a week for 8-12 weeks. At this time, we are not offering services based on a sliding fee scale.
The number of sessions required will vary depending on the specific condition being addressed. All sessions, after the initial session, are 45-50 minutes each. Normally, treatment progresses once per week. On average, if you are seeking treatment for a specific phobia, 8-10 sessions are required. The average number of sessions for panic disorder with agoraphobia is 12-15. This average will vary by individual based on the severity of your disorder and your active participation in treatment and assigned “homework” tasks.
8. How can I be an active participant in my own recovery?
There are many ways to be an active participant in your own treatment. Learning and practicing the anxiety management techniques is key. Reading and completing workbook exercises between sessions will also help your progress. In addition, you can explore the feared environment in real life in one of its less threatening modes in between VR exposure sessions (ie. visiting the airport if you have a fear of flying).
9. How much does treatment cost?
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or call us at (858) 642-0267 (answering service).
For questions about insurance, please read question 11 or email us at email@example.com or call us at (858) 642-0267 (answering service).
10. What is your rate of success?
Controlled clinical studies of virtual reality treatment as well as clinical services performed over the past seven years at the VRMC for specific phobias, panic disorder and agoraphobia reveal a success rate of approximately 92%.
11. Are your services covered by my insurance?
We have had great success with getting treatment covered by major insurance companies. As a courtesy to our patients, VRMC will issue a monthly invoice if you would like to have it to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. We do require payment, however, at the time of service via PayPal (you may use your credit card to pay if you have a PayPal account) or personal check. Some insurance policies may cover our services as individual psychotherapy billed under the ‘mental health’ benefit portion. Other insurance policies may cover our services under ‘medical parity’.
12. Other than anxiety disorders, what conditions do you treat at the clinics?
Psychologists and psychiatrists are available to treat stress-related disorders such as migraine and tension headache, chronic jaw pain, and irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, general stress management is taught.
13. What if you don’t have a virtual environment for my phobia?
The Virtual Reality Medical Center employs psychologists and psychiatrists that are able to treat clients with traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This typically involves teaching stress and anxiety management techniques that can be used in any anxiety-inducing situation, and then exposing you to pictures and video and auditory stimuli of the phobic object. Some disorders will then involve exposure to the actual feared object in real life, when you are ready for this step.
For further assistance, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call us at (858) 642-0267 (answering service)