Frequently Asked Questions
- What are phobias?
- How do I begin the treatment process?
- What training and experience do the therapists have in this area?
- Are you able to prescribe medication to me if I need it?
- What will happen during therapy?
- How many sessions are required?
- How can I be an active participant in my own recovery?
- How much does treatment cost?
- What is your rate of success?
- Are your services covered by my insurance?
- Other than anxiety disorders, what conditions do you treat at the clinics?
- What if you don’t have a virtual world for my phobia?
- What if there is not a clinic near me?
- Do you treat children?
1. What are phobias?
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. Phobias can be divided into three categories: social phobia, agoraphobia and specific phobia. Social phobia is a fear of being judged in social or performance situations. Agoraphobia is a fear of public places and open spaces. Specific phobia is a fear of a specific object or situation, such as airplanes, spiders or heights.
2. How do I begin the treatment process?
You will sit down with the therapist and talk about any questions that may be present. Together both of you will discuss what will be done as part of the program. You will also discuss what you would like to accomplish through treatment. A full history and clinical assessment will also be provided. You will then learn relaxation techniques and diaphragmatic breathing skills as a means to ease fear and stress levels. Please visit our Clinical page for more information.
3. What are the clinical procedures at the VRMC?
Non-invasive sensors used to measure your heart rate, breathing rate, sweat gland activity and skin temperature. The therapist will then explain visual feedback of physiology to you. You will learn to control your breathing rate and heart rate, and cognitive coping techniques will be taught before placing you into the VR world. Please visit our Clinical page for more information.
4. Are you able to prescribe medication to me if I need it?
There is a psychiatrist available at the Los Angeles clinic who can prescribe medication to patients who are pursuing that treatment option. Though the therapists at the other clinics do have doctorates in psychology, they are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication to you. However, the therapists at each clinic have close ties to psychiatrists and internal medicine specialists in the area and can refer you to those professionals should you wish.
5. What will happen during therapy?
Please visit our Clinical page for more information.
6. How many sessions are required?
The following price list is according to comparable rates in the area. The intake session is 90 minutes long and consists of a diagnostic interview and lessons on anxiety management. Every regular session thereafter is 45-50 minutes consisting of either continued psychotherapy or VR exposure. On average, patients complete treatment by scheduling once a week for 8-12 weeks. At this time, we are not offering services based on a sliding fee scale.
The number of sessions required will vary depending on the specific condition being addressed. All sessions, after the initial session, are 45-50 minutes each. Normally, treatment progresses once per week. On average, if you are seeking treatment for a specific phobia, 8-10 sessions are required. The average number of sessions for panic disorder with agoraphobia is 12-15. This average will vary by individual based on the severity of your disorder and your active participation in treatment and assigned “homework” tasks.
7. How can I be an active participant in my own recovery?
There are many ways to be an active participant in your own treatment. Learning and practicing the anxiety management techniques is key. Reading and completing workbook exercises between sessions will also help your progress. In addition, you can explore the feared environment in real life in one of its less threatening modes in between VR exposure sessions (ie. visiting the airport if you have a fear of flying).
8. How much does treatment cost?
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or call us at (858) 642-0267 (answering service).
For questions about insurance, please read question 11 or email us at email@example.com or call us at (858) 642-0267 (answering service).
9. What is your rate of success?
Controlled clinical studies of virtual reality treatment as well as clinical services performed over the past seven years at the VRMC for specific phobias, panic disorder and agoraphobia reveal a success rate of approximately 92%.
10. Are your services covered by my insurance?
We have had great success with getting treatment covered by major insurance companies. As a courtesy to our patients, VRMC will issue a monthly invoice if you would like to have it to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. We do require payment, however, at the time of service via PayPal (you may use your credit card to pay if you have a PayPal account) or personal check. Some insurance policies may cover our services as individual psychotherapy billed under the ‘mental health’ benefit portion. Other insurance policies may cover our services under ‘medical parity’.
11. Other than anxiety disorders, what conditions do you treat at the clinics?
Psychologists and psychiatrists are available to treat stress-related disorders such as migraine and tension headache, chronic jaw pain, and irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, general stress management is taught.
12. What if you don’t have a virtual environment for my phobia?
The Virtual Reality Medical Center employs psychologists and psychiatrists that are able to treat clients with traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This typically involves teaching stress and anxiety management techniques that can be used in any anxiety-inducing situation, and then exposing you to pictures and video and auditory stimuli of the phobic object. Some disorders will then involve exposure to the actual feared object in real life, when you are ready for this step.
13. What if there is not a clinic near me?
Condensed treatment, one session per day, Monday-Friday, is available for those traveling from out-of-town/out-of-state/out of country.
14. Do you treat children?
The youngest client treated at the VRMC has been six years old and the most senior has been 83. There are therapists available to treat individuals of all ages.