The service is also designed to provide treatment in other ways, like taking patients to the top of a virtual skyscraper so they can face a fear of heights or to a virtual bar so they can address an alcohol addiction.
Backed by the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, Limbix is less than a year old. The creators of its new service, including its chief executive and co-founder, Benjamin Lewis, worked in the seminal virtual reality efforts at Google and Facebook.
The hardware and software they are working with is still very young, but Limbix builds on more than two decades of research and clinical trials involving virtual reality and exposure therapy. At a time when much-hyped headsets like the Daydream and Facebook’s Oculus are still struggling to find a wide audience in the world of gaming — let alone other markets — psychology is an area where technology and medical experts believe this technology can be a benefit.
Traditionally, psychologists have treated such conditions by helping patients imagine they are facing a fear, mentally creating a situation where they can address their anxieties. Virtual reality takes this a step further.
“We feel pretty confident that exposure therapy using V.R. can supplement what a patient’s imagination alone can do,” said Skip Rizzo, a clinical psychologist at the University of Southern California who has explored such technology over the past 20 years.
Barbara Rothbaum helped pioneer the practice at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta,…