Virtual session a real winner to beat phobias

• Barbara Saba using hypnotherapy and virtual reality to overcome phobias. Photo supplied.

COUNSELLOR Barbara Saba is combining virtual reality and hypnotherapy in her “ground-breaking” new treatment for phobias.

The treatments are usually done separately, but combining the two is “ground breaking”, the Fremantle therapist says.

Psychologist Anne Galambosi and Mrs Saba’s colleague psychologist Jorg Thonnissen created the computer program used in the therapy.

“It’s the first time the software is being used,” Mrs Galambosi says.

During trials one client overcame a decades-long fear of flying, after an important business conference in Bali forced him to tackle his aerophobia.

“He came back saying ‘you have changed my life’. A few months later he was travelling the world,” Mrs Saba says.

The program can be used for any phobia, including fear of dogs and heights.

The most common phobias are fear of flying, needles, public speaking, and exam anxiety in young students,” Ms Saba says.

“And social anxiety is a big one because of the increased use of the internet.”

The use of VR allows a client to overcome a phobia in a safe environment, and allows clients to go places, and experience things not easily available, Mrs Saba says.

The program includes a biofeed loop to monitor stress levels, allowing the therapist to steer the session back onto safe ground if necessary.

VR has been used to overcome phobias since 1997. Research has found its sensory and immersive nature helps patients get better faster than just describing trauma.

To find out more go to or call Barbara Saba on 0415 536 580.


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