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Brief Report
Cognitive behavioral therapy for public-speaking anxiety using virtual reality for exposure
Page L. Anderson, Ph.D. 1 *, Elana Zimand, Ph.D. 2, Larry F. Hodges, Ph.D. 3, Barbara O. Rothbaum, Ph.D. 4
1Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
2Virtually Better, Decatur, Georgia
3University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
4Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
email: Page L. Anderson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
*Correspondence to Page L. Anderson, Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, P.O. Box 5010, Atlanta, GA 30302-5010Funded by:
National Institutes of Mental Health; Grant Number: R41 MH60506-01
Keywords
public-speaking anxiety • cognitive behavior therapy • virtual reality • treatment
Abstract
This study used an open clinical trial to test a cognitive-behavioral treatment for public-speaking anxiety that utilized virtual reality as a tool for exposure therapy. Treatment was completed by participants (n=10) meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-IV criteria for social phobia, or panic disorder with agoraphobia in which public speaking was the predominantly feared stimulus. Treatment was conducted by a licensed psychologist in an outpatient clinic. Treatment consisted of eight individual therapy sessions, including four sessions of anxiety management training and four sessions of exposure therapy using a virtual audience, according to a standardized treatment manual. Participants completed standardized self-report questionnaires assessing public-speaking anxiety at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 3-month follow-up. Participants were asked to give a speech to an actual audience at pre- and post-treatment. Results showed decreases on all self-report measures of public-speaking anxiety from pre- to post-treatment, which were maintained at follow-up (n=8; all P<.05). Participants were no more likely to complete a speech post-treatment than at pre-treatment. This study provides preliminary evidence that a cognitive-behavioral treatment using virtual reality for exposure to public speaking may reduce public-speaking anxiety and suggests that further research with a controlled design is needed. Depression and Anxiety 22:156-158, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Received: 28 December 2004; Revised: 25 May 2005; Accepted: 15 June 2005
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1002/da.20090 About DOI
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