Follow the Dot to Beat your Anxiety

Follow the Dot to Beat your Anxiety – Using EMDR in Virtual Reality at home to diminish trauma and anxiety in youth

Around 30% of trauma-exposed children and adolescents develop post-traumatic stress symptoms. A frequently used therapy to reduce trauma and anxiety is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). While EMDR is effective, children and adolescents often experience symptom recurrence when exposed to the feared situation outside the therapeutic context.

As a solution, the start up company Psylaris developed an innovative Virtual Reality application for use in EMDR treatment (VR-based EMDR), making it possible to intensify EMDR by transferring part of treatment from the therapeutic context to the own living environment. In a four year PhD project, VR-based EMDR will be further developed by Psylaris and scientifically evaluated by Tilburg University in a multicenter Randomised Clinical Trial (RCT), with two conditions: EMDR-treatment as usual and VR-based EMDR. To understand how VR-based EMDR works and for whom, mechanisms of emotion regulation strategies will be examined. Questionnaires are administered repeatedly and Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM) is used before and during intervention.

VR-based EMDR stimulates self-care in the family setting and is expected to reduce symptom recurrence, enhance patient satisfaction and improve quality of life. As VR-based EMDR a) helps to transit part of the treatment to the own environment and b) prevents additional treatment due to relapse, this innovative health technology could ultimately lead to shorter waiting lists and substantial healthcare savings, adding up to almost €4.6 million per annum.

The ultimate goal is a scientifically evaluated VR-based EMDR treatment, ready to use in clinical practice for youth with post-traumatic stress symptoms.

Summary
The Follow The Dot project evaluates the use of Virtual Reality in EMDR (VR-based EMDR) in children with post-traumatic stress symptoms in a multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT). VR-based EMDR stimulates self-care in the family setting and is expected to reduce symptom recurrence, enhance patient satisfaction and improve quality of life.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
5 - 7
Time period
48 months