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Can EMDR help with fear of heights?

A fear of heights is something that many people suffer from. Often the actual cause is unknown and sometimes an underlying trauma is the reason why a fear of heights has developed. Getting rid of fear of heights depends entirely on how you developed it, what your personality is and what kind of therapy is applied. It must be said, however, that fear of heights is originally a natural fear. It is a reaction of the body to heights, so that you become more cautious. Without this fear, you would be reckless and the risk of accidents would be higher.

Is a fear of heights phobia?

Common human fears aren't necessarily strange. On the contrary, it helps you to stay alert and act cautiously. When the fear becomes excessive, it is called an anxiety disorder or a phobia. In this case, it means that the fear of heights affects your life to such an extent that you can no longer function normally. In the end it is not about the height anymore, but everything revolves around the fear. Especially the fear of heights and therefore you will avoid certain situations. This is always unhealthy. Another term for extreme fear of heights is acrophobia. This is the official name for fear of heights.


What are the fear of heights symptoms?

When you suffer from fear of heights symptoms, the body can react very differently. This depends mainly on your personality and the extent of the phobia. With a normal fear of heights, you will find it scary to look down and have the natural reaction of grabbing onto something. With a severe anxiety disorder, you can become so anxious that your body cramps up. No matter how high you stand at the time, your body can no longer do anything. Other spontaneous manifestations of the body when you are at high altitude are palpitations, sweating, trembling and spontaneous crying fits.

Avoiding the situation

When you start avoiding situations very consciously, then you can be sure that you have serious symptoms. For example, if you live in a flat and the fear of looking down on the floor is so great, you may isolate yourself. Therefore, with anxiety disorders, avoiding a certain situation will often lead to social isolation. If you have already reached this stage, then you definitely need to seek professional help.

Can you overcome fear of heights?

You can certainly overcome fear of heights by going into therapy. If there is no clear reason for the occurrence, cognitive behavioural therapy is usually chosen. The aim of this therapy is confrontation with heights. Of course, this is done under the supervision of a therapist. This can be done under supervision in real situations, but also with virtual reality. If there is a clear link between the fear and a trauma, EMDR is very effective for treating acrophobia.

Getting rid of fear of heights by means of EMDR

EMDR stands for 'Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing'. During this treatment, distraction plays a central role. It turns out that everyone's working memory is quickly overloaded. Distraction is a method for this. During the therapy session, the therapist asks the client to recall the trauma. This includes what you thought and felt at that moment. The trauma is loaded into your working memory or is already there, because the trauma is unprocessed. At that moment, the therapist distracts you and you have to follow the hand gestures of the therapist with your eyes. You can also be distracted by wearing headphones and hearing sounds.

The result of the distraction is that the working memory is overloaded. This is necessary, because after repeating it a few times, you will notice that you have less trouble recalling the traumatic moment. Although the trauma remains difficult, you will be able to recall it with less emotion. In some cases, other thoughts arise spontaneously. This means that you have given the trauma a place and that the fear of heights has disappeared or is no longer of great influence on your life.

Treatments with new tools from Psylaris

PTSD therapy for EMDR is an officially scientifically proven therapy and usually achieves successful results. Yet it can be even better, and this with the help of modern techniques. Psylaris has developed handy tools for practitioners, with which a PTSD EMDR treatment can be better controlled and if necessary can be carried out remotely. With EMDR-remote the PTSD EMDR therapy can easily be carried out behind a laptop or PC, whereby the therapist has various possibilities for distraction. With EMDR-VR a whole new step is taken with EMDR PTSD. The treatment is done with VR-glasses, which allow for much more intense distractions. The VR glasses can be used both in the treatment room and at home with the PTSD client.

Especially with a fear of heights treatment acrophobia for a trauma, nowadays modern techniques are easy to use. Psylaris is engaged in the development of such products, in order to improve and facilitate accessibility for mental healthcare.


EMDR-Remote is Psylaris' application for practitioners. This is a complete online platform, to apply EMDR therapy remotely. The client can be treated from home behind his/her PC or laptop. The practitioner has many more digital opportunities online to use distraction tasks

Virtual reality to treat fear of heights

In cognitive behavioural therapy, where the aim is to confront the client with heights, virtual reality (VR) is ideally suited. With the VR glasses on, the client is completely disconnected from reality and enters a new reality. Psylaris has developed specific applications for people who are afraid of heights. Through the VR goggles they are confronted with heights, but in a safe situation. Ultimately, VR can also be used at home, increasing the frequency of treatment and helping the client to recover sooner.


Exposure in virtual reality

The goal of Psylaris is to support therapists even better with innovative techniques and tools. Virtual reality plays a leading role in this. With EMDR-VR and EMDR-plus an EMDR treatment is possible using virtual reality. The practitioner can use distraction tasks even better and the client can also be treated remotely. Virtual reality is ideally suited for exposure therapy. The client is confronted with his/her fears. It is no longer necessary to visit a physical location, such as an elevator in case of elevator fear or a shopping mall in case of agoraphobia. With the VR glasses on, the client is confronted with the fear in the safe environment of the treatment room or his/her home. Psylaris has developed modules for various types of fears that require exposure therapy. This saves costs and time, and the client can be treated more frequently, which results in a faster recovery.

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