People suffering from phobias could soon learn to overcome their fears through cyberspace.
Specialists in Aberdeen are working on a virtual treatment delivered direct to patients’ homes through the internet, overcoming any lack of therapists.
They hope phobias such as a fear or flying, or a fear of driving after having an accident, could be helped.
The work is being carried out by staff at the Aberdeen Centre for Trauma Research (ACTR).
They hope that virtual reality tools similar to computer games can be used by patients on home computers rather than having to go into clinics.
This could mean single therapists monitoring several patients at the same time.
ACTR’s Professor David Alexander told BBC Scotland: “To try and treat a phobia you have to expose the patient to what they fear.
“We can control what people are seeing and they can sit in a situation like real life. The closer you get to the situation the more likely you are to reduce the anxiety.”
As well as overcoming any therapist shortages, it is hoped patients too anxious to travel for treatment will also find the home assistance helpful
ACTR’s Dr Susan Klein said: “By offering this in their own homes they feel in a safe environment.”
Former hostage Terry Waite officially launched the UK’s only trauma victim helpline in Aberdeen in November.
The Sudden Trauma Information Service Helpline (STISH) aids victims of sudden daily trauma, such as assaults, road, industrial and domestic accidents.