Elaine Iljon Foreman

The sky's no longer the limit - Fear of flying

Posted by Elaine Iljon Foreman Cognitive Behavioural Therapist 361 Days Ago


Imagine not being able to fly to the sun, city or ski slope for an annual holiday, short break, or business trip.

Imagine thinking you're the only one suffering from a fear of flying and either not talking about the problem, or if you do, feeling that friends and family will only tell you you're just being silly.
The reality is that between 1 in 5 and 1 in 15 of the population are likely to be scared of flying. The fear can affect people of all ages. Some people will avoid flying altogether or use medication or alcohol to manage their fear - but these techniques frequently do not actually solve the problem. It severely limits leisure options for both the person themselves, and their family. It can also impede business development and promotion opportunities.

Research has indicated that the fear of flying is not a “fear of aeroplanes”. It is different things for different people. For some it can be seen as a fear of a loss of external control, in other words that something will happen to the plane. Turbulence and heights can be aspects of this fear. For others it can be thought of as a loss of internal control. This can mean fearing having a panic attack, losing control and becoming hysterical, or experiencing some bodily catastrophe such as a heart attack, fainting or making a fool of oneself, plus a dread of being trapped, unable to get out, and being far from any required help.

A number of different forms of treatment have been developed to enable many to overcome this difficulty. The most successful form of therapy for this problem is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive behaviour therapy was developed from extensive research. It was found that people's behaviour and emotions depended to a large extent on what they understood was happening. Having understood what one is thinking, and seen how this affects one’s feelings and behaviour, it can often be possible to train oneself in a different way. This new behaviour can then lead to a potentially more satisfying way of life and become part of the person’s normal pattern of existence.
Knowing that help is available gives the person hope that they need not be grounded by their fear, but can learn to overcome it, and discover for themselves that the sky is no longer the limit!
Elaine Iljon Foreman BA(Hons), MSc, AFBPsS, is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist who specialises in the treatment of fear of flying and other anxiety related problems and has developed a two session "Freedom to Fly" programme based on cognitive behavioural techniques. She holds an Honours Degree from Durham University and a Master’s degree from Aberdeen University. She has researched the treatment of anxiety at Middlesex Hospital Medical School. Invitations to present her research in this field have taken her to Europe, the Americas, Australia and the Far East.
Elaine offers consultations and courses to help you overcome your fear of flying as well as other anxiety related difficulties in West Sussex and North West London.