Fear of Flying

Spoken to the Subject

You are now quite comfortable and relaxed. We are going to review your travel plans. If at anytime you feel any discomfort, simple, let me know by speaking, or just signal me by raising your index finger of your right hand. If fact, do that. Now, slightly raise your index finger, of your right hand…. Good. Now, lower your index finger, and we will begin. Imagine yourself at your home. You are comfortable. You are getting ready for your trip. See yourself reviewing your packing list. Imagine yourself going through all the motions, placing the items you need in your suitcase. Double checking the lock on your suitcase. Seeing that all your preparations are in order. You feel confidant here, relaxed and ready for your travels. Now see yourself placing the luggage in the car, ready to go to the airport.You are still quite relaxed, quite comfortable. You double check to make certain that you have your ticket. You are ready to go to the airport.

Traveling in the car is familiar to you. You are at ease. You are still feeling calm, secure. See yourself driving up to the airport and unloading your luggage. The skycap helps you to check it into baggage claim. He takes your luggage and gives you receipt stubs for it. Everything is going smoothly. You are calm and relaxed. In fact, take a deep breath and feel the relaxation flow throughout your body.

At any time during this process at the airport, to relax and to calm yourself simply take a deep breath… and as-you exhale, see in your mind and say to yourself, “I am calm” do this three times, breathing deeply and slowly. Your body will adjust to the soothing breaths.

Next stop in our adventure is the security check point. This is good because it lets you know that the airport is very concerned for your safety, and they are protecting you. You empty your pockets of any metal and coins before you walk though the arches. These machines are so sensitive to metal that it is not uncommon for a belt buckle to set them off. If so, you may be asked to go through again or they may wave a hand unit over your back and down the front of your suit. It is procedure, they are just being careful with all the passengers. You are grateful for their care. It makes you feel comfortable, safe, and secure.

Next, imagine yourself going to the gate area. Here is where you check in. Go up to the counter at your gate and verify your seats. The attendant at the counter may stamp your ticket and take it at this point, or they may simply check their records to verify your place. If the plane is not too full they may say you don’t need to check in at all, if you already have your seat assignment. All are quite normal procedures and hundreds of thousands of people go though these procedures every day. You are still feeling very relaxed and comfortable. A few minutes prior to flight time they begin to board the plane. You listen carefully to the announcement of when your row can board and get in line during the proper time. See yourself as feeling quite comfortable during the boarding process. You take special note of your seat row and number, you have your boarding pass ready. You are ready.

As you board the plane see yourself as still quite relaxed. You are easily able to find your row and seat. You settle in and get comfortable. You may wish to have a book, newspaper, or magazine with you to read during this time.

The attendants are making certain that everything is ready… that the passengers are comfortable, seated and have their safety belts on. Imagine yourself looking around at the other passengers. Some passengers are so calm and experienced at flying that they pay little attention as the attendant reviews the safety procedures. Those passengers have heard the announcements several times before. You relax and listen to the announcements. You take special notice of how many rows to the exit doors, you make certain that your seat back is upright for take off. You know you will be able to recline your seat after the plane levels off.

Think about how the plane is similar to a car. It has wheels, it has windows, it has a driver and so on. The pilot is just as comfortable in flying the plane as you are driving your car to your local store. As the plane taxies down the runway you are reminded of driving your car again. In many ways it is similar – you back your car out of the driveway… the plane backs out of the boarding area. You pull on to the main road… the plane turns and pulls onto the runway. You accelerate to get onto a freeway… The plane accelerates on the runway. You have driven uphill in the mountains… the plane feels like it’s going uphill during take off. Take a deep breath now and relax. Again think about comparing this to driving your car. When the plane is airborne and you are on your way to the distant location, it is not that different than being in a bus or train. The pilot is transporting you. You are free to move about, chat with the person next to you, read something of interest, listen to a cassette tape or recline your seat and go into a deep, deep state of relaxation. You may choose to enter into a state of hypnosis by breathing deeply and saying to yourself, “I am relaxed. I am calm.”

When it is time to land you will need to have your seat back upright, your tray table in the stored position, and your personal belongings either in the overhead storage compartment or under the seat in front of you. The attendant will help you, if you need it. Imagine yourself staying comfortable and calm during the descent and landing. See yourself at the end of your journey being relaxed and delighted at the experience. You didn’t even mind the announcements at the end of the flight. The attendant quickly says good-bye to you as you leave the plane. You were in complete control of your emotions, behaviors, and reactions. See yourself getting off the plane and retrieving your luggage from baggage claim. Perhaps imagine what it is like to be greeted by your family, friends, or co-worker.

[Note to Counselor: If during the suggestions you see the index finger rising up, simply go back to a prior element where the client was still relaxed, and review it again before continuing. Or, you may wish to conduct some dialogue with the client to clarify what the fear or anxious feelings were.]

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