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How CBT Can End A Fear Of Flying

Updated: Aug 1

This summer has seen many people planning to fly overseas on holiday again as Covid restrictions have been lifted, only to find they are faced with significant problems in doing so.


For many, it has been all about flight delays and cancellations, with disturbing scenes of distressed travellers with ruined holidays.


However, for many people it is not the recent problems at airports that stop them boarding a plane, but a fear of flying in the first place.


This is a real phobia that can be very restrictive, especially if you would otherwise travel to a long-haul destination like the US, the Far East or Australia. It can be linked to issues like panic attacks or claustrophobia.


Of course, you could just accept the situation, miss those long trips, or take more time to travel by ship. But the good news is that this phobia can be overcome by cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).


There are many ways this can help you overcome the phobia. For example, sometimes people are triggered by certain sounds or movements in an aircraft, such as turbulence, indicators lighting up and sounding - usually for minor matters yet something that can be interpreted as a signal of an impending catastrophe - or even normal movements of a plan like banking.


Therapy can make use of these, by playing audio of these sounds or even getting people to mimic them, an example being to ride on a train with their eyes closed and feel the bouncing and bumping around, which is usually much more pronounced than turbulence. By doing this you can grow in reassurance and be confident you can take to the air.


As ever, there are some ‘hack’ ideas out there, such as one tip from a pilot involving a pot of jelly with a napkin on top. The wobbling substance is supposed to represent turbulent air, showing that while it is malleable, the napkin cannot fall through it. But this does not replicate the sound or feel of being in the air.


With our help, you can overcome a fear of flying and you won’t need a pot of jelly, nor turn to jelly when you are sitting on a plane.


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