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Fear of Flying:


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Page Contents: Fear of Flying Treatment Options


Fear of Flying —
Why not leave home without it?

IF YOU suffer from fear of flying, you have several options. You can, of course, simply avoid flying altogether. Or, you can continue to fly with proverbial “white knuckles,” each flight a misery that embarrasses you and antagonizes your family and friends.

You could drink yourself into oblivion, but if you fly a lot this solution may not be good for your health. Or you might consider using an anti-anxiety medication (tranquilizer) prescribed by a physician. In either case—alcohol or medication—don’t try driving after the plane gets on the ground or your blissfully sedated brain might get you into a real crash. 

Note this comment about in-flight medication:

“I strongly believe that no one should use any medication for in-flight symptoms without first testing it on the ground with knowledgeable professional oversight to assure that no bad effects might occur: idiosyncratic reactions, allergic reactions, drug-drug interactions, and so on. Mid-air is no place to discover such phenomena. And of course, no mixing meds with alcohol!” [1]

Should you decide to do something about your anxiety, you might consider a group program—sometimes offered through airlines—that might help you find relief from your symptoms. In fact, many anxious passengers simply need the reassurance and information these programs offer. Such group programs are usually run by aviation professionals, however, not a psychologist with the training and expertise to evaluate and attend to your specific individual needs. Still, if you can find help from a group program you will save the expense of individual treatment. And there should be someone associated with the program who has some sort of mental health training who can refer you for individual help if you need it.

A relatively new approach to fear of flying involves the use of virtual reality, but clinics that offer such treatment may not be located in your area.

You might also want to consider individual treatment from a qualified therapist. In this case the fear of flying would be considered a Specific Phobia, and it would be treated clinically on that basis. Of course, your therapist may not know a thing about aviation.

Best of both worlds, of course, would be a psychologist who is also familiar with aviation, and who can offer a Fear of Flying treatment program that covers individualized assessment, flight facts, aviation procedures, cognitive training, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Autogenics Training, and Systematic Desensitization.

Finally, you might want to try self-treatment. Use the resources I offer on this site—for free, without registration or marketing tricks—to learn Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Autogenics, and a treatment method called Systematic Desensitization. Just about everything I offer in individual treatment is here on this website for free—except, of course, my personal guidance. Or you can purchase a self-treatment package from another source.


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Additional Resources

1. David R. Jones, MD, MPH, Consultant in Aerospace Psychiatry. Personal communication. 6 May 2000, drjones@zebra.net
Further Reading:
Van Gerwen LJ, Diekstra RFW. Fear of flying treatment programs for passengers: An international review. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 2000; 71:430–7.
Jones DR. Fear of flying—No longer a symptom without a disease. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 2000; 71:438–40.
General Information:
Fear of flying treatment programs for passengers: an international review  is an abstract of an article from the Aerospace Medical Association. The abstract itself is informative, but you will have to pay to get the complete article.
Virtual Hospital: Psychiatry: Fear of Flying  — helpful information from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
Treatment Sources (listings do not imply my endorsement):
Aviation Medical Practitioners Around the World is a list of many professionals with some interest in aviation medicine. Not all of these professionals may provide fear of flying treatment, but you can browse through the list to see whom you can find in your area.
AIRFRAID is a UK-based website “designed to be an information station for all those who have a fear of flying.”
Fearless-Flight.com  run by an airline captain, offers classes in Phoenix, Arizona.
Fearless Flying  offers a self-help treatment program.
Fear of Flying Clinic  is located at the San Francisco International Airport. If you are looking for other Fear of Flying clinics or professionals in the US or in Canada, go to their home page and “Click on the plane” to locate some other clinics and treatment programs.
Fear of Flying Help Course  is a free interactive course developed by an airline captain. If you’re looking for help, this could be a great place to start.
Flying Without Fear  primarily sells books, videos, and audios, but provides some free quizzes, assessments, and tips.
Northwest Airlines WINGS Program  is a group program offered by Northwest Airlines.
Virtually Better  offers a virtual reality approach for treatment. Check their site to see if there is a clinic near you. (Here is a direct link to their page which lists partner clinics around the country.)
Soar  sells a self-learning treatment program created by an airline captain / licensed clinical social worker. If there is no Fear of Flying treatment offered in your area, or if you prefer a self-help approach to overcoming your fear of flying, you might want to look at this site.
Related pages within A Guide to Psychology and its Practice:
Autogenics Training  explains a self-taught relaxation technique. Why pay for something somewhere else when you can get it here for free?
Basic Principles of Aircraft Flight  explains basic aerodynamics, including turbulence, in relation to commercial flight.
Fear of Flying  explains the various issues related to the fear of flying.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation  explains a self-taught relaxation technique. Why pay for something somewhere else when you can get it here for free?
Systematic Desensitization  explains a simple, self-taught treatment for fear of flying. Why pay for something somewhere else when you can get it here for free?
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A Guide to Psychology and its Practice



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Throughout this website, my goal is simply to help you realize that although life can be painful, unfair, and brutal, it doesn’t have to be misery.
The practice of good clinical psychology involves something—call it comfort—which does not mean sympathy or soothing, and it certainly doesn’t mean to have your pain “taken away.” It really means to be urged on to take up the cup of your destiny, with courage and honesty.


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