About me

Martin Polák, MSc.

I studied psychology with the focus on clinical psychology and psychotherapy at the University of Trnava, University of Munich, University of Graz and University of Vienna. My dissertation research deals with the effectiveness and implementation of the new forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy. In my current research project, I investigate the efficacy of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy) and internet-based CBT (iCBT) in the treatment of panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I am a member of the European Society for Research on Internet Interventions, with oral presentations at scientific conferences in Warsaw, Bergen, Dublin and Graz. For five years I worked with clients with behavioral and emotional disorders with onset occurring in childhood and adolescence (ICD-10 F90 - F98) in a multidisciplinary team in Vienna, for the last two years acting as a team-leader. In Slovakia, I workedin Psychiatrickej nemocnici Philippa Pinela v Pezinku and in Psychiatrickej nemocnici Veľké Zálužie. I am currently undergoing training in cognitive-behavioral therapy, organized by the ABC Inštitútom pre výcvik v kognitívno-behaviorálnej terapii.

 


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

From the evolutionary point of view, fear is one of the oldest and strongest emotions. We experience fear at the thoughts-level, but it also triggers a strong bodily reaction. When facing danger, a special brain-area known as amygdalais activated. In order to trigger a response to the stimulus that caused fear, amygdala sends signals to the nervous system. As a result, the body immediately releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, increases blood pressure and heart rate. Our breathing speeds up and the blood flow changes. The blood flows into the limbs, which allows the much-needed arousal and fast movement. Our body thus prepares for an ancient automatic reaction – fight or flight. If the fear becomes too strong or if there is no way to escape, individuals get stuck in an unpleasant paralysis, also known as freeze.
Fear is a natural reaction to certain events, objects or situations we get in contact with over the course of life. However, if it begins to interfere with the ability to function normally and start causing a long-term decline in the quality of our life, it is time to talk about phobia or anxiety disorder. Phobias belong to a group of anxiety disorders. A simple definition of phobias could be that they present an "excessive fear of harmless objects or situations that lasts long enough to significantly interfere with the quality of life". It is quite understandable for you to experience a slight restlessness of even fear in a gloomy cellar, after you watched a horror movie. Such reaction is completely appropriate. However, if a mere thought of staying in a cellar of any dark room causes you a great deal of stress for several months, this clearly is a phobic reaction.
Vo VIRTUO našim klientom pomáhame čo najskôr získať kontrolu nad ich fóbiami alebo úzkosťami. Využívame pritom najefektívnejšie metódy overené rokmi vedeckého výskumu a praxe. Sme presvedčení, že len ten kto rozumie svojmu strachu ho môže aj efektívne poraziť. Pri opätovnom získaní kontroly nad strachom je preto dôležité porozumieť tomu, že sa všetky Vaše telesné a psychické reakcie v nepríjemných situáciách dejú podľa určitých vzorcov. Aj vyhýbanie sa obávaným situáciám je návyk, ktorý v skutočnosti udržuje bludný kruh fóbie a úzkosti. Tieto vzorce, ktoré sú vo väčšine prípadov neproduktívne, je však možné zmeniť. Taktiež sa u nás naučíte efektívne techniky, ktoré Vám pomôžu v nepríjemných situáciách reagovať pokojnejšie. Naučíte sa úspešne zvládať nepríjemné telesné reakcie ako zrýchlený tep, pocit slabosti, závraty alebo točenie hlavy, potenie, chvenie, či dýchavičnosť. Získate kontrolu nad katastrofickými myšlienkami a scenármi, ktoré Vás počas panických stavov sprevádzajú. Vo VIRTUO počas konzultácií postupne zistíte, že situácie spôsobujúce úzkosť sú v skutočnosti menej nebezpečné, ako sa na prvý pohľad zdá. Keď budete všetky potrebné techniky ovládať, začnete svoj strach konfrontovať. Azda najväčšou výhodou je, že môžete čeliť Vášmu strachu v kompletne bezpečnom prostredí virtuálnej reality. Cieľom sedení je naučené techniky a stratégie aplikovať do bežného života a znovu žiť naplno a uvoľnene.
Face your fears to get over them! Unlike traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy, where confronting feared stimuli in real life is a fundamental part of the treatment, virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) uses the innovative technology of virtual reality, which enables confrontation to feared stimuli in a variety of virtual environments. In addition to changing unproductive thinking about feared situation and reducing avoidant behavior, VRET includes gradual exposure to stimuli that cause anxiety and disrupt normal functioning of affected individuals in their everyday life. VRET presents a modern psychological treatment, with a high treatment effectivity that has been continuously confirmed since the 90s. It represents a practical stage between a conversation about a dreaded situation and a confrontation in real life. One of the greatest advantages of VRET is that clients can face dreaded objects or situations in a secure, controlled, and predictable environment. The severity of a situation can be individually adjusted according to the client’s treatment progress and the confrontation with the feared situation can be repeated until the fear drops to the required level. In this way, users gradually gain control of their fears and learn that they can live a more relaxed life.
The method of VRET offers various advantages to traditional exposure delivery, such as that during exposure clients can interact with virtual stimuli in a safe and controlled environment, which makes it easier to get used to the feared stimuli. As such, VRET present a platform where effective relaxation training can be easily incorporated. In virtual reality, the whole exposure process can be repeated as many times as necessary, which clearly is a major advantage over conventional exposure interventions. Examples from real-life practice show us that when trying to confront feared stimuli in vivo, it is usually difficult to repeat the exposure as much as needed within a short period of time. For instance, individuals affected by excessive fear of flying usually experience difficulties practicing multiple exposures in real life, as air travel still is a costly and logistically demanding mode of transportation. In virtual reality, you can practice the exposure as many times as needed. In addition, findings from scientific research show a significant fear reduction after only about 8 sessions, which makes virtual reality exposure therapy the most cost-efficient treatment interventions for phobias. Scientific studies confirm that virtual reality exposure therapy is a highly preferred therapeutic intervention among young people, but also among individuals suffering from specific phobias such as fear of driving, public speaking, medical examination and blood sampling, or claustrophobia.
Virtual reality has been meticulously studied for many years now so that we can say we know how it works. Although older generation tends to perceive virtual reality as something unknown and potentially dangerous, experience in virtual reality is safe. In case you are still having difficulty with the concept of virtual reality, try to imagine virtual reality as a tiny cinema hall, with you sitting in the front row and a movie running in front of your eyes. If you've ever visited a movie theater and worn 3D glasses, you've had something similar to a virtual reality experience. Staying in virtual reality for too long can cause a slight dizziness and possible nausea in some people, however, this will pass after a few minutes.


Plan and pricing

Our treatment plan usually includes ten 50-minute sessions, during which most anxiety disorders can be treated effectively. However, it is important for us to provide you with as much time as you really need.

1. session Exploration of the problem & treatment goal setting
2. – 4.  session: Knowledge and techniques acquisition
5. – 9. session: Training in virtual reality
10. session: Completion

We offer block-scheduled sessions spread over two to three days for clients with travel issues.

Normal session

50
  • Duration: 50 min.

Online session

50
  • Duration: 50 min.

Reduced session

40
  • Duration: 50 min.

Control session

No fee
  • Duration: 50 min.

Articles


REFERENCES



CONTACT


Get in touch


Contact

+421 915 546 098

info@virtuo.sk


Opening hours

MON: 9:00 – 19:00
TUE: 9:00 – 19:00
WED: 9:00 – 19:00
THU: 9:00 – 19:00
FRI: 9:00 – 16:00
SAT: on request


Address

Seberíniho 1765/9

3rd floor, door 321

Bratislava
821 03

Parking possibility in the hotel's parking lot


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