Phobias Born of Our High-Tech Lifestyles


“Nomophobia, fear of missing out (FoMo), and fear of being offline (FoBo), — all anxieties born of our new high-tech lifestyles — may be treated similarly to other more traditional phobias,” Wiederhold said in a statement.“Exposure therapy, in this case turning off technology periodically, can teach individuals to reduce anxiety and become comfortable with periods of disconnectedness.”
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Professor Dr. Brenda K Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCB, BCN
Top 10 Developments as We Move into Third Decade of Virtual Reality…


The growing role of VR in healthcare.

How has VR developed and what potential does it have for future healthcare?

In the 1990s, there were no resources dedicated to virtual reality (VR) and behavioural healthcare – no journals, no clinics, no conferences, no training programmes and only few advanced technologies. Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a new exciting and challenging era of technology-enhanced behavioural healthcare…

Top 10 Developments as We Move into Third Decade of Virtual Reality…


The growing role of VR in healthcare.

How has VR developed and what potential does it have for future healthcare?

In the 1990s, there were no resources dedicated to virtual reality (VR) and behavioural healthcare – no journals, no clinics, no conferences, no training programmes and only few advanced technologies. Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a new exciting and challenging era of technology-enhanced behavioural healthcare…

Emerging Technologies Helping to Mobilize Healthcare Services

Collaborating with an international group of researchers, Dr. Brenda Wiederhold, Ian Miller, and Dr. Mark Wiederhold recently published a chapter in Digital Health: Scaling Healthcare to the World. Edited by Homero Rivas and  Katarzyna Wac of Stanford University, this book presents a comprehensive overview of state-of-the-art approach to digital health technologies and healthcare practices. Wiederhold, Miller, and Wiederhold contributed a chapter titled, “Augmenting Behavioral Healthcare:Mobilizing Services with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.” This chapter focuses on the use of virtual and augmented reality in behavioral healthcare. More specifically, it describes how these portable technologies can be used to increase access and efficiency of behavioral health interventions.


You may purchase the full text at:

For questions regarding the chapter, please contact Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold (

Wiederhold BK, Miller I, Wiederhold MD. Augmenting Behavioral Healthcare: Mobilizing Services with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. InDigital Health 2018 (pp. 123-137). Springer, Cham.

Virtual Reality expanding in phobia and PTSD therapy, education, gaming

By Irene Cruz

It always sounded like science fiction — technology that could make you feel like you’re standing on the edge of a building, walking on a balance beam, or sailing in the middle of the ocean.

But now, virtual reality technology has advanced to the point where that dream…has become a reality.

Virtual Reality headsets were one of the big-ticket items landing under Christmas trees last year, with many consumers ready to step into the 3-D gaming world. And as popular as those trendy pieces were, the entertainment industry isn’t the only place VR is striking it big in 2017.

Experts predict you’ll see more headsets in the classroom, in doctors offices treating phobias and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], in the workplace, and on the internet bringing you to the latest news scene. Virtual Reality has been around for about three decades, but past issues — technology was too expensive, the equipment was clunky, people got motion sickness, the software wasn’t realistic — held the product back from popularity on the market.

“In the last two or three years, there has been a real frenzy about the equipment,” Dr. Skip Rizzo, a professor for USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, said. “Pretty soon, a virtual reality headset is going to be like a toaster. Everyone is going to have one. You may not use it every day, but every home will have one.”

The education field is looking into the technology as well, possibly for surgical training, combat training, and special needs classes.

“Autistic children sometimes take better to virtual reality – to computers – than they do to humans,” Dr. Brenda Wiederhold, president of Virtual Medical Center in San Diego, said. “We can train autistic children how to cross streets, how to order at a restaurant, how to behave more social appropriately.”


For full article, click here.

Asia-Pacific Analysis: R&D spending boosts development

R&D investment lessons from China

There are lessons in R&D investment to be learned from China.  The Chinese government encourages Chinese companies to create and own technologies, and also transfer technology from abroad, according to American author and editor Professor Dr. Brenda K Wiederhold. [2]  “As a result, a number of multinational technology and pharmaceutical companies have taken advantage of this policy” to transfer facilities from India. The Chinese government owns all top-ranked academies and has tripled its investment in education in the past 12 years, she notes. These universities emphasise research. “Of the five million students graduating per year, about one million are research students. And China’s academicians file more patent applications than those in any other country — 16 percent compared to 4 percent in the United States,” Wiederhold adds.

[2] Brenda K. Wiederhold  Investment in Innovation:  Lessons Learned from China (CyberPsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, Volume 14, Number 4, 2011)

Contact Information:

Virtual Reality Medical Center

La Jolla, California USA

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Checking email less frequently reduces stress


Checking email less frequently reduces stress, according to psychologists at the University of British Columbia.

They instructed half of the study’s 124 adults, including students, financial analysts and medical professionals, to limit checking their email to three times daily for a week, while telling the other half to check email as often as they did before the study. Then the researchers reversed the instructions for the two groups during a subsequent week. The researchers found that during the limited email use week, participants experienced significantly lower daily stress than during the unlimited email use week. Lower stress, in turn, predicted higher well-being on a diverse range of well-being outcomes. These findings highlight the benefits of checking email less frequently for reducing psychological stress.

You can read the full research on Computer in Human Behavior book.

Posttraumatic stress disorder



Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop when a person goes through one or more traumatic events such as sexual assault, serious injury, narrowly escaping death, domestic violence or watching a fellow soldier die on the battlefield. People with PTSD typically suffer from disturbing recurring flashbacks, hyperarousal, bad dreams, frightening thoughts, emotional numbness and strong feelings of depression, guilt and worry.



Exposure therapy, a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) technique, is the most widely employed tool to help victims manage PTSD symptoms. By helping patients to confront—rather than avoid—the memory of the traumatic event, exposure therapy techniques support the ability to overcome anxieties and fears. Using other relaxation techniques, victims slowly gain control over responses to traumatic events and learn to cope in a much better way. Exposure therapy has been found to be very effective in treating PTSD, and has a high success rate in treating patients with specific phobias.

Virtual reality, with its advanced visual immersion devices, specially programmed computers, and three-dimensional artificially created virtual environments, takes exposure therapy to a whole new level—allowing the patient to confront a traumatic experience in a safe and controlled manner.



The most extensive research regarding the applications for VR-based therapy for treating posttraumatic stress disorder was funded by the Office of Naval Research, starting in 2005. This initiative was part of a program to develop new technologies to assist combat veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan in managing PTSD symptoms.

Using new software, hardware, simulations, physiologic monitoring (biofeedback), skills training and therapeutic methods based on Virtual Reality, VRMC (Virtual Reality Medical Institute’s California-based affiliate), designed,  developed, tested and clinically validated VR and biofeedback in a randomized clinical trial carried out at Balboa Naval Hospital and Camp Pendleton Marine Base in Southern California.  The development began after holding focus groups with returning military men and women, to bring in the content and cues that were most important to them as the end users.

The advantage of this VR-based Graded Exposure Therapy (VR-GET) is that it helps patients who find it difficult to identify or talk about a traumatic event—which impacts the ability to learn the required skills to cope with a number of anxiety-inducing situations.

In this setting, the combat veteran relives the traumatic episode in a simulation that captures the essential elements of the event—all in a safe and controlled manner—while trying to recognize and manage any excessive autonomic arousal and cognitive reactivity.




VRMC’s  VR system and protocols are now in use in active duty and veteran’s facilities throughout the U.S. as well as in Poland and Croatia, to serve coalition troops.  It is now with great pride that we announce that Virtual Reality Medical Institute, VRMI, will be the first to offer this treatment in Western Europe.  For more information, or to schedule a consultation session, please email us at research @




Press release

Press Release – CYPSY19 Award Winners

At the International Association of CyberPsychology, Training & Rehabilitation’s (iACToR) 19th Annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY19), awards are presented to pay tribute to individuals for their outstanding achievements.  Past recipients include Professor Dr. Stephane Bouchard (2005), Professor Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold (2006), Professor Dr. Giuseppe Riva (2007), Professor Dr. Cristina Botella (2008), Professor Dr. Hunter Hoffman (2009), Professor Dr. Sun I. Kim (2010) and Professor Dr. Mark D. Wiederhold (2011), Professor Dr. Mariano Alcaniz (2012) and Professor Richard M. Satava. (2013).

To celebrate more than a decade of exciting advances in cybertherapy as well as the growth of the CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference itself, we are proud to announce Prof Andrea Gaggioli as the 10th Annual CyberTherapy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. This award, the highest given by our community, has a tradition of honoring a person who has demonstrated outstanding lifetime achievements in the fields of advanced technologies and healthcare.

Prof. Gaggioli is Research Professor of General Psychology at the Catholic University of Milan, Italy; Senior Researcher of the Interactive Communication and Ergonomics of New Technologies – ICE-NET – Lab. at the Catholic University of Milan, Italy, and Deputy Head Researcher at the Applied Technology for Neuro-Psychology Laboratory – ATN-P Lab., Istituto Auxologico Italiano. For over ten years, Prof. Gaggioli has investigated the potential role of pervasive technologies in promoting mental and physical wellbeing. His involvement with those research areas has led to the co-authoring of over fifty articles in refereed journals, including these papers published in “Science”: (i) Gaggioli A., Riva G., Working the Crowd, Science. 2008 Sep 12;321(5895):1443; (ii) Gorini A, Gaggioli A, Riva G. Virtual Worlds, Real Healing. Science. 2007 Dec 7;318(5856):1549. For his scientific work, Prof. Gaggioli received several international acknowledgements, including the 2005 Annual Prize of the European Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine ( In addition, he has recently completed coordinating the European Commission funded INTERSTRESS project (Interreality in the Management and Treatment of Stress-Related Disorders). This STREP project explored the potential of a new human-computer paradigm – “Interreality” – for the management of psychological stress.

The aim of the Clinical Cyberpsychology New Investigator Award is to reward the presentation of strong methodological studies at the CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking conference. This year we are delighted announce Dr. Fillipo La Pagaila as the conference award recipient. Dr. La Pagaila is an Italian psychologist who received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorder at the University of Palermo with the experimental thesis on “Assessment of Executive Functions in Patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by Virtual Reality.” Currently Dr. La Pagaila works at the Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neuroscience, University of Palermo, Italy.

The main area of interest for Dr. La Pagaila is the application of Virtual Reality and media technologies within the clinical context. His current work includes the “Assessment of Executive Functions in Patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by NeuroVirtual Reality and the “Cognitive Rehabilitation in Schizophrenic Patients by Virtual Reality”. In addition, since 2004 Dr. La Pagaila has been planning and conducting educational robotics laboratories in primary and secondary school which are aimed at the improvement of mathematical logical thought and problem-solving strategies.

Dr. La Pagaila is the author of several scientific papers published in the area of methods and psychology assessment tools and the use of virtual reality and the Internet in medicine and  training. In 2013, La Paglia received “The 2013 Young Minds Research Award and since 2008, he has participated at each CYPSY conference.

To showcase outstanding achievements in a student poster submission to the CYPSY Conference, the Young Minds Research Awards, sponsored by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers, are presented to those projects judged to have the greatest potential to contribute to the innovative field of cyberpsychology, cybertherapy, training, & rehabilitation.

We are proud to announce our two poster winners, Jonathan Shalom from Israel and the lab of Soledad Quero from Spain. Mr. Shalom is currently a Ph.D candidate from Ben-Gurion University in Israel and presented his work ‘Social Anxiety and Physiological Arousal in Computer Mediated vs. Face-to-Face CommPatients’. Soledad Quero and her students from the Universitat Jaume I in Spain presented two posters: Expectations and Satisfaction with Traditional CBT versus CBT supported by ICTs & An Online Self-Applied Program for Drug Use Prevention in Adolescents (PREVEN-TIC FORMATIVO): the Professionals’ Assessment.

Congratulations and thank you to the winners for their dedication and passion in moving CYPSY forward.