Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common condition which can be difficult to treat. Many individuals with OCD symptoms try multiple treatments with limited success. This has created demand for new effective treatment methods. A common psychological treatment involves exposure to objects and environments that can cause anxiety, for example a messy kitchen, while practicing skills to better manage the associated thoughts, images, and urges, for example washing and cleaning.
Virtual Reality is a technology which allows users to walk around in, and interact with, three-dimensional computer-generated environments. Users can see, hear, and interact with the virtual environment, which feels more real than looking at a computer screen.
In a therapeutic setting, Virtual Reality offers people with OCD the opportunity to practice exposure to objects and environments that otherwise would be impractical or challenging in a psychologist’s office. The experience of these virtual environments may feel more real than using imagination. Virtual Reality exposure is engaging while increasing safety and control, as people can decide when the next object will be present in the environment, and know they can always instantly switch off the Virtual Reality.
In this study participants engage with virtual and real-world contamination scenarios, working collaboratively with the research team to manage their OCD symptoms. This project aims to develop a Virtual Reality treatment method for OCD.