Feasibility of Virtual Reality Environments for Adolescent Social Anxiety Disorder

Danielle E. Parrish, Holly K. Oxhandler, Jacuelynn F. Duron, Paul Swank, Patrick Bordnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study assessed the feasibility of virtual reality (VR) exposure as an assessment and treatment modality for youth with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Methods: Forty-one adolescents, 20 of which were identified as having SAD, were recruited from a community sample. Youth with and without SAD were exposed to two social virtual environments—party and public speaking—and two neutral virtual environments. Results: All youth reported significantly higher ratings on the Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS) during the party and public speaking scenarios compared to the two neutral environments, while youth with SAD reported significantly higher SUDS in the public speaking and party environments than those without SAD. Youth also demonstrated acceptable levels of presence and immersion in the VR environments. Discussion: VR exposure treatment appears to be feasible for youth with SAD, highlighting the need for further research on its development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-835
Number of pages11
JournalResearch on Social Work Practice
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology


  • adolescent
  • social anxiety disorder
  • social phobia
  • treatment
  • virtual reality
  • youth


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