HKBU-led team uses online counselling and virtual reality to treat social anxiety

2021-01-20
The research team members and partners of EASE Online programme include: (From left) Mr Wong Yun-wa, Co-founder of AESIR.hk (VR Social Enterprise); Mr Ernest Chan Ho-sing, Project Manager of AESIR.hk; Dr Pan Jiayan; Mr Stephen Wong, Senior Social Work Supervisor of Caritas Wellness Link - Tsuen Wan; Mr German Leung, Analyst Programmer of the Department of Computer Science at HKBU
 EASE Online programme integrates VR exposure therapy that exposes social anxiety disorder participants to real-life social situations.

A HKBU-led research team has launched an online cognitive behavioural therapy  programme named “EASE Online” to help people with social anxiety disorder. It incorporates virtual reality (VR) scenarios that are common triggers for social anxiety, allowing participants to respond as they would to real-life situations and receive counselling services from mental health professionals.

The programme is recruiting 600 participants aged 18 to 70 with social anxiety disorder. It will also provide training to around 100 local mental health professionals on how to operate the programme, with the aim of serving more people in need in the long run.

“Online counselling and VR exposure therapy create a safe and non-threatening environment for people with social anxiety to learn how to cope with fearful social situations. We hope that the EASE Online programme will bring SAD sufferers’ social life back on track,” Dr Pan added, who led a team comprising investigators from the Department of Social Work and the Department of Computer Science at HKBU.

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