In SL I own Dogland Dog Park, and I work with owners of Virtual Dogs. I just finished a project with a psychologist I have become associated with. The project was designed to systematically desensitize 13 subjects to their RL fear of dogs. All 13 became virtual dog owners, in SL. The project lasted 6 months, and had great success. out of the 13, 11 reported losing their fear of Canines. 7 out of the 13 became dog owners in real life. The project was so successful, I am being sent visitors with fear of dogs, by other professionals to work with.
I personally, have used this technique with myself and one friend. We both had a fear of heights. I can only speak for myself on my results. I am disabled, and walk with assistance, however after going through steps of higher and higher platforms, and allowing self to fall off these platforms, I found improvement in my fear. I was able to climb a ladder, and stand and walk on my roof, and work on my air conditioner.
Point here is, Virtual Worlds are well suited to use to eliminate some fears, through virtual exposure to same.
Come to SL if you wish to talk about this, and see me at Dogland Dog Park in Rhoda. While there visit the dogs used to assist in this project.