Fright or flight?

Danielle Blanch, Reporter

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The odds of a person being in a plane crash are extremely low, 1 in 29.4 million to be exact, at least that’s according to

Despite these odds, 1 in 5 people experience a fear of flying. Pteromerhanophobia, the technical term for a fear of flying, is more complicated than just being concerned about your plane crashing on the way to Bali.

A fear of flying can come down to many factors: claustrophobia, panic disorder, turbulence, fear of heights and/or loss of control.

One technique to help overcome a fear of flying is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy which can help to break unhealthy habits of thinking, feeling and behaving.

Flight Experience is an Australian company helping people to overcome their flying phobias by combining CBT with interactions with a trained airline pilot and flight simulation.

Julian D’Arcy, the flight Operations and Training Manager at Flight Experience, said in a statement, “These components are designed to enable the participants to discover and understand the ‘technical’ side of aviation, relevant to their specific anxieties.

“It is proven that a lack of understanding of ‘what goes on’ in a flight can have a major impact on an individual’s fear of flying.”

 Courses with Flight Experience will set you back between $550-$1675.

An alternative treatment you could use to combat the fear is Hypnotherapy.

Phil Harrison, a Clinical Hypnotherapist specialising in the treatment of fear of flying, said the fear can be rooted in a person’s subconscious,

“If the subconscious perceives any situation as emotionally painful, in this instance through fear of flying learned in a past experience, it will use all of its ability to keep you away from that fearful situation to protect you in the future.

“Because the subconscious mind does not have arms or legs, it will use emotions and thoughts to try and keep you away from that situation associated with emotional pain.

“They have taught their subconscious mind to associate flying with fear.”

According to Mr Harrison, between the conscious and unconscious mind, there is a barrier called the ‘critical faculty’ of the conscious mind, which determines what we believe to be true or false,

“In the state of hypnosis, that critical faculty can be by-passed and we can converse directly with the with the subconscious mind and get it to approach the fear of flying from an angle of calm and control.”

A hypnosis treatment with Mr Harrison at Perth Hypnosis Centre will set you back $325 for the initial session, and $225 thereafter.

There are also free ways of combatting the phobia. has a course available here. The five-part information guide takes you through knowledge about how a plane works, how to recognise your anxiety and ways to relax during your flight.

The guide does not tout an overnight fix, “It is important to remember that your fear and anxiety can take several months to overcome and gain complete control,” but gives you the tools to begin to combat your fear of flying.

With referral from you GP, under the Mental Health Scheme, you can receive 10 free sessions with a psychologist per calendar year. These sessions could be used with a practitioner specialising in phobias to overcome your fear of flying.


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Fright or flight?