Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) has emerged as a developing treatment modality in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) related to combat. Current evidenced based practice guidelines favor psychotherapy involving exposure through guided visual imagery. However there are limitations to this method. The technology of virtual reality brings an integrated and authentic enviromnent to prolonged exposure therapy that was previously unattainable. Tlu·ough an extensive review of the literature this paper seeks to answer the question: ls virtual reality exposure therapy effective in treating combat related PTSD when compared to more traditional methods or no treatment? There were 12 studies included in the review. There is significant evidence from current research supporting the use of VRET to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of combat related PTSD. In all studies reviewed, PSTD symptoms were reduced in patients as measured by either the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) or PTSD Checklist, military version (PCL-M). Small sample size was a limiting factor in all studies. Minimal information is available regarding the efficacy of VRET compared to imaginal exposure therapy and other traditional PTSD treatments. More research is needed to determine if VRET is a first line treatment for combat related PTSD