What is VR Teletherapy? 

Virtual reality (VR) teletherapy is virtual reality therapy where the therapist and client are in different physical locations and communicate using a video link. Using a video link has very little effect on therapy because the therapist is still able to see and communicate with the client.

Using virtual reality as part of teletherapy is basically the same as using VR for in-office therapy (see What Is Virtual Reality Therapy?). During the parts of therapy that involve VR, the client wears a virtual reality headset, and the therapist can monitor and control what the client sees in VR on their computer (or Therapist Workstation) display.

Differences in VR for teletherapy include:

  • Only certain VR therapy products and VR headsets support teletherapy. Headsets that communicate using the Internet are suitable but headsets that connect to a computer via a cable (called wired headsets) or headsets that only communicate using short-range wireless technologies are not.
  • Teletherapy clients often provide their own VR headset, this headset is likely to be a smartphone with an inexpensive VR headset adapter/holder. Smartphone-based VR headsets are adequate for VR therapy, especially for anxiety treatment.
  • At the start of each session, the client's VR headset is paired with the therapist's workstation by sharing a unique code.

For VR teletherapy, a client must have a minimal amount of additional equipment. This includes:

  • A VR smartphone headset/holder and a compatible Android or Apple smartphone. These headset/holder devices typically cost less than $50.
  • A second device for video conferencing while doing VR. This can be a second mobile phone, a tablet computer, personal computer, or certain video chat devices (Facebook Portal, Amazon Echo, etc.)

In general, both clients and therapists have found that they prefer teletherapy after being forced to adopt it by the pandemic. Distance therapy seems to work as well as in-person treatment in terms of therapeutic outcomes and some therapists are only seeing clients via teletherapy.

For clients, the advantages of VR teletherapy include:

  • Ability to select from a larger pool of therapists, including specialists, without being limited by their ability to visit the therapist’s office.
  • Eliminating the time, hassle, and expense required to physically travel to a therapist's office.
  • Enhanced privacy by being treated at their usual location.

Therapists find that VR teletherapy offers these advantages:

  • Motivated potential clients who are specifically looking for VR therapy.
  • Teletherapy offers the ability to serve a larger pool of potential clients--including anyone within the geographic area covered by their licenses--not just those living or working near their office location.
  • More flexibility in terms of office locations, office space needs, working hours, and scheduling clients.