Fear of Flying?
- 20th June, 2015
- Psychological Therapies
Fear of Flying
It’s that time of year when we get ready to jump on a plane and head to the sun for the annual summer holiday. Whilst there may be many who think nothing of plane travel, some shudder at the thought. The statistics indicate that more women than men are affected and the fear begins in childhood or early 20’s. Surprisingly, approximately 30% of the population are apprehensive yet manage their wide ranging degrees of fear, hesitancy and reluctance using various strategies to cope. Some are relatively successful, usually distraction techniques, others such as drinking to excess may work, but are not ideal and not recommended. Again distraction techniques are good, and practice is required especially if a long haul flight is on the cards. You may question how you practice distracting yourself on a flight, and because of this many people don’t feel there is a solution? Sadly between 2 and 10% of the population avoid plane travel completely preferring to stay with their feet on the ground.
In addition to those with flight phobia, are others who suffer from panic disorder or agoraphobia, and the worry and fear is not just limited to aeroplanes. Ships, trains, buses and cars may also be avoided for fear of the danger and the life threatening situation, the individual feels they are in. Life becomes confined and the safe/comfort zone is the preferred place to be. These people use avoidance strategies rather than the more successful distraction strategies. The problem with avoidance is that it works – something you do causes you to feel uncomfortable and experience unpleasant emotions, so you tell yourself it’s best avoided, and no more unpleasant emotions! If you keep doing this believing that avoidance works, your world gets smaller, your confidence diminishes and you unlearn how to control negative thoughts and emotions.
If you recognise yourself here, you may wonder what else can be done to enable you to change your behaviour and move out of your comfort zone.
• Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is successful in overcoming phobias by challenging your negative thoughts and helping you think, feel and behave differently. Cognitive restructuring and graded travel exposure are key elements in CBT.
• Trauma Therapy (EMDR) helps by reprocessing negative memories, when perhaps your life felt threatened or you lost control and experienced danger. It may be that you don’t know why you avoid particular forms of transport and can’t convince yourself otherwise. EMDR helps to deal with these unprocessed memories.
• Hypnotherapy is another way of helping you to overcome your fears by ‘programming’ more positive self affirming thoughts to help you regain confidence and control over your life.
• Self-help books can also be helpful If you are one of the people who can ‘fly’ but struggle in the days or hours beforehand, or perhaps become increasingly anxious on the flight. The self help techniques are varied and may be just what you need?
Finally, if you do struggle with a phobia, you don’t have to, help is available. A change in behaviour is possible is you really want it!