Fear of Spiders
Between 10 and 11 percent of people have a specific phobia, and approximately 4 percent of the population have arachnophobia. Like other phobias, it manifests itself as a persistent and irrational fear of the phobic stimulus, resulting in avoidance of places and situations associated with the stimulus, and overwhelming anxiety about encountering such a situation. Never knowing when one might encounter a spider may cause impairment in a variety of situations.
If you are restricted by arachnophobia, you may benefit from virtual reality therapy. Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) places you in a computer-generated environment where you can be safely exposed to spiders, thereby reducing your anxiety in stages, at your own pace. You wear a head-mounted display with stereo earphones that immerses you in the VR environment by providing you with both visual and auditory cues.
In this type of therapy, you will be exposed to a hierarchy of phobic situations designed to reduce your anxiety in gradual increments. This format ensures that anxiety at each level dissipates before you move to the next level. In this way, the connection between the stimulus and the phobic response is dissolved. If an increase in anxiety does occur, you may simply return to a previous stage and repeat it until you are able to progress successfully to the next stage.
The entire process lasts 8-12 sessions on average. The graded experience might include: standing across the room from a spider, standing next to a closed jar containing a spider, holding a closed jar containing a spider, holding an open jar containing a spider, touching a spider. These steps are customized for each individual.
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