The feasibility of verbal and virtual reality exposure for youth with academic performance worry

Stephen P.H. Whiteside, Elle Brennan, Bridget K. Biggs, Kristin Vickers, Julie Hathaway, Sara J. Seifert, Kevin M. Kramer, Deanna R. Hofschulte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

With exposure emerging as a key ingredient in anxiety treatment for childhood anxiety disorders (CADs), expansion of exposure techniques is a promising avenue for improving treatment efficacy. The present study examined use of imaginal exposure (IE), a technique understudied in the treatment of CADs. Specifically, the study tested whether two forms of exposure to worries (verbal IE and virtual reality exposure therapy, VRET) would be effective and acceptable forms of exposure with youth. Twenty youth with fears of academic failure completed both types of worry exposure, presented in randomized order. Regardless of order of presentation, both verbal IE and VRET elicited moderate anxiety that decreased to mild over the span of the exposures. Both were found to be acceptable by youth and neither was associated with negative side effects. Youth found VRET to be slightly more interesting and novel, but noted that verbal IE was more realistic and individualized. The present study supports the use of standalone worry exposure as an effective and acceptable treatment for general worries in youth and suggests VRET could be more effective with improved realism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102298
JournalJournal of anxiety disorders
Volume76
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Child anxiety
  • Exposure therapy
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Imaginal exposure
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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