Home-Based Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy with Virtual Health Agent Support

Dwi Hartanto, Willem-Paul Brinkman, Isabel Kampmann, Nexhmedin Morina, Paul Emmelkamp, Mark Neerincx

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


To increase the accessibility and efficiency of virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) this paper proposes a system for home-based use where patients with social phobia are supported by a virtual health agent. We present an overview of our system design, and discuss key techniques such as (1) dialogue techniques to create automated free speech dialogue between virtual characters and patients in virtual reality worlds; (2) a multi-modal automatic anxiety feedback-loop mechanism to control patients’ anxiety level; and (3) motivational techniques applied by a virtual health agent. The system was evaluated in a pilot study where five patients with social phobia utilized our home-based VRET system. The results showed that the system was able to evoke the required anxiety in patients and that over time self-reported anxiety and heart rate gradually decreased as expected in exposure therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPervasive Computing Paradigms for Mental Health
Subtitle of host publicationMindcare 2015 International Symposium on Pervasive Computing Paradigms for Mental Health
EditorsS. Serino, A. Matic, D. Giakoumis, G. Lopez, P. Cipresso
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-32270-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-32269-8
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2016
EventMindCare 2015: 5th International Conference - Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Milan, Italy
Duration: 24 Sept 201525 Sept 2015
Conference number: 5

Publication series

NameCommunications in Computer and Information Science
ISSN (Electronic)1865-0929


ConferenceMindCare 2015
Internet address


  • Virtual reality therapy
  • Virtual coach
  • Virtual health agent
  • Behaviour change support system
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Self-therapy


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