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Claustrophobia and fear of elevators (Vrerience)

Malintis has developed a virtual reality program for the treatment of claustrophobia. The program has been included in our library called Vrerience. Claustrophobia is the fear of small spaces, or the fear of being trapped in them. The program makes use of a type of environment that is known to many people who suffer claustrophobia: an elevator. An elevator can be a very fearful environment to people who suffer claustrophobia. Not only are elevators relatively small – they are also subject to many mechanisms that transport you between different floors. What if that mechanism fails? The fear can become even more suffocating in an elevator lacking windows or any other visual indication of proper movement. You’ll just have to trust that the elevator is bringing you to your desired floor. The sensation of fear can lead to symptoms such as clammy hands, an increased heart rate, dizziness or nausea.

“Who can get me out of here?!”

Treating Claustrophobia as a fun challenge

So now, our therapeutic VR-library called Vrerience contains a treatment for claustrophobia. 

Nu heeft onze therapeutische VR-bibliotheek genaamd Vrerience dus een behandelprogramma voor claustrofobie. Just like with most of our VR-programs, we wanted to create an experience that is both therapeutic as well as fun. You can practice using an elevator in a simulation that is virtual but still very realistic, by letting yourself be transported between a variety of floors. The bottom floor looks like the lobby of your typical office building. Therefore, every floor presents a different, typical office floor. The higher you go, however, the better your view over the city the windows in front of you have to offer once the elevator doors open themselves. The ninth floor is the highest. This is on top of the office building you practice in. The view over the city is beautiful and wide – a nice reward for the long journey you’ve done by elevator!

claustrofobie lift
Once the elevator doors open up, you get to see how high you’ve come.
claustrofobie lift dak
Once you’ve reached the ninth, top floor, you get to enjoy a beautiful view!

The therapist isn’t simply sitting still waiting for the client to finish the simulation. On their screen, the therapist can follow that the client is focusing on. The therapist can guide the client through different sets of challenges, and see to what extend they are ready to explore their boundaries. At any moment, the therapist can cause the mechanism of the elevator to fail. The elevator will come to a halt, a read security light will switch on, and none of the buttons will respond to to the user. You can see this as an exercise to learn and trust services that will solve the situation for you. They will really come to your rescue. All you need is patience. In this case, it is your therapist that can “rescue” you with the push of a button. In the meantime, it’s only a matter of patience and trust – just like in real life!

Vrerience is available on Steam and meant for professional use. Nonetheless, we’re very proud of it would like anyone to take a look at it!  Check it out here. Are you also interested in a treatment for claustrophobia? You can always contact us for a free intake session.

“This time, I’m ready to go all the way to the third floor!”

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