The fear of flying (also known as flying phobia) is one of the most common phobias that we see. While some people who fear flying are able to take flights and simply experience discomfort (embarrassment, physical anxiety or panic attacks) during take-off, cruising, or landing, others with flying phobia avoid traveling by plane altogether, thus greatly restricting their options for vacations, family visits, and even universities or jobs. At Union Square Practice, Dr. Julia Bosson and colleagues use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, enhanced by virtual reality technology, to help individuals conquer their fear of flying once and for all.
How does treatment for flying phobia work?
As with any fear, the way to overcome your fear of flying is through gradual exposure. This means that you will spend time with your therapist developing a list of flying-related scenarios that make you anxious, and when you are ready, you will start exposing yourself to these scenarios through visualization, watching video clips, and using virtual reality technology (described below). You’ll also learn breathing techniques and thinking skills to help you manage your anxiety when you feel it rising in flying-related situations. Finally, you will become educated on some basic facts about flying (such as turbulence) that will help debunk some of the fears you’ve been holding. We find that most people can successfully take a flight with a significant reduction in anxiety after treatment.
What is Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy?
Exposure therapy is the most effective treatment for any phobia, and the virtual reality technology that we have at Union Square Practice enhances this gold-star treatment. Using our technology, we can simulate the airplane environment and varying circumstances (e.g., turbulence, rain, etc.) to help ensure that you get the most realistic practice possible. In this way, you will be fully prepared when you take your flight, and you can walk onto the airplane with confidence knowing that you can handle the situation.
Why do I need treatment? Can’t I just keep taking medication or drinking alcohol to get through flights?
Although taking medication or drinking alcohol to sedate yourself during a flight might seem to work in the short-term, it does nothing to help you actually overcome your fear. In some cases, it has even been associated with worse symptoms, especially since doing so teaches you that you “need” to rely on substances to fly and that you can’t handle the situation on your own. Facing a fear is never easy, but with the help of our compassionate, talented therapists and cutting-edge technology, you can master your fear and start living your life more fully.
Union Square Practice is one of the only clinics in lower Manhattan to offer Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for fear of flying.
Contact us today to learn more about this unique opportunity.