What is Claustrophobia?
Claustrophobia is the irrational fear of confined spaces.
People affected by claustrophobia will often go out of their way to avoid confined spaces, such as lifts, tunnels, tube trains and public toilets. But avoiding these places may reinforce the fear. Some people with claustrophobia experience mild anxiety when in a confined space, while others have severe anxiety or a panic attack.
The most common experience is a feeling or fear of losing control. Many different situations or feelings can trigger claustrophobia. Even thinking about certain situations without exposure to them could be a trigger. Common triggers of claustrophobia include lifts, tunnels, tube trains, revolving doors, public toilets, cars with central locking, car washes, shop changing rooms, hotel rooms with sealed windows, planes.
If you have felt anxious in the last 6 months about being in a confined space or crowded place, or you have avoided these situations for this reason, you're likely affected by claustrophobia.
Virtual Reality Therapy for Claustrophobia
Claustrophobia virtual reality environments work through the fear of closed spaces in situations where the clients feel shut in and escaping might be difficult. These environments allow for repetition and complete control over exposure parameters, including the number of people, the distance between the walls, elevator malfunctions and more.
VR Environments that help
The client will find themselves inside an elevator where they can enter or leave as many times as they would like. Experiences can be modified through the presence or the absence of people and the possibility of an elevator malfunction.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
The client is in a hospital waiting room, about to receive an MRI scan.
The client will find themselves inside an elevator that can stop on different floors. After travelling up or down the elevator, the client can exit.
Basement and small room
The client can take the elevator to the basement, and walk down a narrow corridor until they reach an enclosed space, which can be regulated based on what the client needs.
VR Therapy involves gradually introducing the client to confront the claustrophobic environment and face the fears and helping to adapt and make necessary changes. It may involve just a few sessions of therapy, after which the end goal is for the client to confront such situations and have self-confidence.
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