Virtual Reality

Information on Virtual Reality treatment for situation specific anxiety, phobia or fear.

  • Introduction

    Virtual Reality is a novel and safe treatment for situation specific anxiety and fears/phobias in 7-17 year olds with ASD and average ability.

  • What is Virtual Reality?

    The treatment is modified cognitive behaviour therapy delivered by a healthcare professional within an innovative immersive virtual reality setting.

  • Assessment and treatment

    Detailed and expert assessment of children and young people with ASD inform the virtual reality treatment plan. Assesment includes an initial telephone or MS Teams meeting to discuss treatment, a home visit or clinic appointment to discuss and plan treatment, work on understanding emotions, and think about which treatment strategies are likely to be effective for the individual.

  • Treatment

    Treatment consists of 4 personalised sessions, following a meeting with the clinical team, including the healthcare professional leading treatment.

    During treatment, the young person sits inside a virtual reality room with a therapist. Projected images on a 180 degrees curved screen are made to replicate the young person’s individual situation specific anxiety.

    The healthcare professional works with the young person on cognitive and behavioural strategies that are likely to be helpful in dealing with their anxiety. Parents/carers are able to watch and listen from another room, so they learn about the strategies too and see the therapist implement these.

  • The team

    Virtual reality treatment is led by:
    Professor Jeremy Parr, Consultant in Paediatric Neurodisability.
    Dr Laura Tavernor, Senior Clinical Psychologist

    The Multi-disciplinary team that assists with the delivery of virtual reality treatment includes:

    • Consultant Clinical Psychologist
    • Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
    • Consultant Neurodisability Paediatrician
    • Clinical Psychologists and Assistant Psychologists
    • Nurse Specialists in ASD
    • Administrative Staff

  • Referral criteria

    Young people with a clinical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or Asperger syndrome; aged 7-17 years (under 18 years); who are able to understand and use sentence level speech. We will be happy to discuss any questions about eligibility.

  • Who can make a referral?

    Referrals are accepted from all over the UK. Referrals should be from locality Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and Child Health/Paediatric Services, or General Practitioners.

  • How to make a referral

    Referrals are accepted by post, fax or secure email using the electronic CNDS referral form which can be accessed online at

    Telephone enquiries are welcomed before referral.
    Once a referral has been received, we will contact the young person’s local clinical commissioning group (or equivalent) regarding payment for treatment.

    Referral must include:
    • Completed virtual reality CNDS referral form
    • Details about the young person’s situation specific anxiety, phobia/fear (including specific details about the situation that provokes anxiety, frequency of occurrence, impact on the child and family)
    • Summary of current diagnoses/formulation

  • Contact details

    Tel: 0191 287 5260


    Complex Neurodevelopmental Disorders Service (CNDS)
    Walkergate Park
    Benfield Road
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE6 4QD