Public speaking anxiety (PSA) is a common phobia. Although cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is preferred, difficulties arise with the exposure component (lack of therapist control, patient's inability to imagine, self-flooding, loss of confidentiality resulting from public exposure). Virtual reality CBT (VRCBT) enables a high degree of therapist control, thus overcoming these difficulties. This study examined whether VRCBT is an alternative to CBT. Participants with PSA were randomly assigned to VRCBT (28 participants), CBT (30 participants), and wait list control (WLC; 30 participants). VRCBT and CBT were significantly more effective than WLC in anxiety reduction on four of five anxiety measures, and on subject's self-rating of anxiety during a behavioral task. No significant differences were found on observer ratings of the behavioral task. However, twice as many participants dropped out from CBT than from VRCBT. Our results demonstrated that VRCBT is an effective and brief treatment regimen, equal to CBT.
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