Find the couch-style of counseling a bit stale? Researchers are looking at ways to use VR to help walk patients through experiences that otherwise might feel overwhelming — and bypass talk therapy.

Oxford University is launching a research project to put patients into 20 to 30 minute sessions using virtual reality headsets. A therapist will accompany patients when they're in each virtual scenario. Trials will start with those who have more serious conditions like schizophrenia and depression.

Medical researchers have tested using VR with other medical conditions including myopia to managing pain. Stanford University adopted VR technologies and devices to help calm children during routine care such as changing bandages, that might normally cause them stress.

Researchers earned a UK's National Institutes of Health Award of $5.6 million (£4 million) to start the trial.