Virtual Reality Exposure and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy For Fear of Flying:

Last week I headed back over to the virtual reality flying simulator team that I'll be delivering my fear of flying course alongside. I've written already about the VR machine and the fear of flying course we have developed, in these two articles: i) New fear of flying course - help to overcome flying nerves and anxiety; and ii) Fear of Flying - Calmly Taking To The Air in a Boeing 737.

Naturally, one thing I've spent a fair amount of time researching and investigating is the added value of virtual reality for helping with fear of flying and the best methods of integrating that aspect with my cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy. And there is actually a fair amount of research out there that has looked at virtual reality exposure treatment for fear of flying and its benefits and effectiveness.

Many existing approaches make use of anxiety management and cognitive techniques, alongside providing accurate information about aeroplanes and flying as a way to calm that fear. Some approaches make use of exposure techniques that could range from going to an airport, watching and listening to the sound of aeroplanes taking off and landing and then, where practical, sitting in a plane before then moving on to actually flying somewhere.

Of course, some of these elements are easier to realise than others to help you overcome your fear of flying. As long as it isn't too far, getting to an airport and watching and listening to planes is probably achievable. Actually arranging to sit on a stationary plane for a bit is harder to achieve and the opportunities for repeating this and subsequent steps become less and less. This is where virtual reality exposure can really nail the gap in your progress to reduce your fear before you actually fly.

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New fear of flying course - help to overcome flying nerves and anxiety:

Fear of flying is perhaps one of the most common fears and phobias around (along with the fears of public speaking and death). It's estimated that up to 25% of the population battle with the fear of flying.

This can lead to avoiding flying completely due to the fear and anxiety associated with it, or perhaps simply trying to force yourself through it and living with the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that come with a flight. Other people may also use alcohol to try and numb the anxiety and help them relax or rely on prescribed medication such as diazepam. And, of course, all these methods can have negative and anxious connotations and consequences that make air travel something to be feared and limited.

I've helped many people to overcome their fear of flying and there is no doubt that hypnotherapy can be a very effective method of overcoming that aviophobia. Yet there is always a leap between the hypnotherapy sessions and then an actual flight. Unless you have easy access to a plane then there is not much scope for testing your therapeutic progress and for having an opportunity to put strategies and techniques into place. There isn't much scope for developing confidence and self-efficacy around flying.

Which is where my new fear of flying course comes in. I'm pretty excited at how well this can combine psychological processes along with education about flying, and the opportunity to put that learning and those calming techniques into practice in the cockpit.

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Fear of Flying - Calmly Taking To The Air in a Boeing 737

Another busy weekend has passed and I'm back in the office ready for a whole new week helping people to overcome limitations and make progress with their goals. As with most other weeks, Saturday was a trip to boot-camp before a fully booked day of clients, and Sunday was a seven mile run before relaxing with the kids. I even found time to have a little go on my ten year old 'original' x-box because there is nothing like a virtual reality game or Star Wars to mentally switch off from everything else. 

January has been manic with clients seeking to overcome anxiety, over-thinking, fear and worry. And whilst some fears are easier to approach in real life, such as overcoming driving fear by getting behind the wheel, fear of flying is much harder to re-create in real life (not many people have easy access to a plane!). Even though it is possible to overcome that flying fear, it is a little trickier to get the proof of change until the day of the actual flight (although most people notice they feel calmer and more relaxed beforehand).  

That's why last week I headed over to a flying simulator centre not far from me to progress our plans to create a course for overcoming fear of flying that combines the best of my psychological help with their knowledge and expertise of plans and flying, along with the opportunity to learn more and experience feeling calm and in control in the cockpit of a Boeing 737. It's a pretty awesome piece of kit and uses virtual reality to fill that gap of overcoming flying fear before your actual flight.

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Overcoming The Fear of Swimming in Open Water:

Do you have a fear of swimming in open water? Well, if you are a triathlete then that fear can seriously impact on your enjoyment of competing as well as your performance levels. Further down this article you can watch a testimonial from Miranda who overcame her fear and absolutely smashed her triathlon.

I'm just back from a week away with my family in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, an absolutely lovely place where we all had a great time. The weather was good, the beaches were amazing and we all really enjoyed our time there. Even the weather was just right (mostly!)!

The kids loved playing in the sea, whether it was splashing around, swimming a bit or getting knocked over by the waves. It was great to see how confident they have become in the water compared to previous years (I splashed around a bit but mainly stuck to dry land because the water was freeeeezing!!). 

There were also plenty of swimmers out in the sea and we often watched them make their way along the horizon. There's an Ironman triathlon event coming up in Tenby so I'd bet a few of them were in training for the open water swimming part.

Yet if open water swimming fills you with fear then a triathlon, or any other open water swimming, could fill you with dread, anxiety and worry. 

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This fear of flying no longer takes off!!

Nothing makes me even more motivated and determined to help people than hearing about my clients who are now getting on with stuff that worried and stressed them before.

Take fear of flying for example. How many people avoid going on holiday and enjoying new experiences simply because their panic, fear and anxiety about getting on that plane is overwhleming?

So I was overjoyed when I got inot the office today to find a postcard waiting for me from one of my clients, Beth, telling me  what a great time she was having in Menorca.

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Horse Riding Fear to Riding Confidence: 

Does the thought of riding fill you with fear and dread?

It may be that horse riding fear just crept up to the point where it is now a problem weighing you down, or maybe you had a nasty experience that now seems to hold you back from riding how you want to.

Working in Cambridgeshire and Newmarket I naturally work with a lot of people who want to regain a sense of riding confidence. Whether you are someone who rides for leisure or fun, or someone who works in the horse racing industry or who competes, it is possible to eliminate that fear and enjoy riding again.

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Do you have a fear of deep water and a fear of swimming?

It may hold you back from learning how to swim, it may stop you going in swimming pools or in the deep water end of the swimming pool, and often people tell me it has an impact when on holiday when they can't go near deep water.

Your fear of deep water/swimming probably means you won't go beyond a level where your feet can touch the floor and you may stay close to the side of a swimming pool for fear of sinking. For some people, the fear can be so intense that they avoid going near the pool altogether.

And whilst for some people their fear of deep water means they panic about being out of their depth in a swimming pool, for others it can mean avoiding travel by boat, crossing some bridges or even flying over a large body of water. 

So how can you overcome your fear of deep water/swimming?

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Afraid of heights? Want to learn how to overcome your fear of heights? 

According to a recent study*, acrophobia - the fear of heights - often develops in later life. The theory is that as we get older our sense of balance tends to deteriorate which makes us feel more vulnerable.

However, if you are afraid of heights, no matter what age you are, there are ways to overcome that fear so that it is no longer overwhelming and restricting.

And whether your fear of heights happens on high levels in buildings, climbing a ladder, crossing a bridge or any other activity at height, in this article I'll cover how to overcome being afraid of heights. 

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Do you struggle with a fear of the dentist? 

I get a lot of clients referred to me from dentists because they need treatment for their teeth yet they are so fearful that they can't go through with it. 

Many just avoid the dentist altogether until their tooth pain gets too great and they have to face their fear. Others may run from the chair or be unable to stop shaking, making dental treatment virtually impossible. Some will consistently cancel and postpone their appointments and I have even helped people who have had consistent panic attacks in the dentist chair.

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Needle phobia is one of the most common phobias and fears that I help people overcome. 

If you have an injection fear it may seem like it has always been there and the thought of a needle, or the sight of one, could be enough to start up those feelings of anxiety and panic.

And you may have been able to get away with avoiding needles for quite some time, but eventually something happens that means you need to face your fear. Maybe you need a blood test, a jab to go on holiday or dental work and while you may try not to think about it, you know that the needle panic is lurking and waiting to strike.

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