Fear of flying

One of the most frustrating things is to have a fear of flying and not be able to take flights and go on holidays with your family or on business trips. What is more is that fear of flying can be cured and is one of the safest forms of travel.

The human psyche allows us to feel happy and content with our lives and permits us to feel safe and secure. We can make planes to travel by air to different parts of the world without fear. However, a reaction to a perceived threat such as turbulence or engine noise can lead to and trigger an overwhelming fear which is detected by the Amygdala in the brain, which is the reason we fear things. Eyes grow wider and breathing rate increases and the heart begins to pump faster; hands become clammy.

This nervousness around flying often arises from completely distorted knowledge and understanding of the perceived danger. There is often small talk around aircraft and how they can fall out of the sky if the engines fail; physics does not allow an aircraft flying at 500kts to fall out of the sky and is no more than media hype. Another myth is how turbulence can supposedly break up an aeroplane which is completely untrue and in the realms of fiction. Turbulence is not much different than driving along a bumpy road and is not dangerous to an aircraft in flight. 

Not surprisingly, passengers with a fear often fill in the gaps to remove the uncertainty. They will hear a noise usually from the aircraft engines that make a range of noises during flight or feel a bump and make a false assumption that they are in danger and the aircraft is going to crash. In reality you need to take five million flights to have an aircraft accident.

It is possible to overcome or manage your fear of flying with a course of therapy to help you understand how an aircraft flies so that you can make connections which will help control your anticipated anxiety and flight anxiety. Reframing your anxiety and fear around flying can help you understand your own fear. With in flight anxiety for example for the duration of turbulence, you can reframe and shift your centre of attention to see things differently. A reframe might be thinking of how safer you are inside the aircraft than outside, because the aircraft cabin stops the turbulence coming into the aircraft and keeps you safe.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

Share this article with a friend

Written by Mehmet Hussein: PGDIP, MA, MBACP

I offer individual counselling and psychotherapy for anxiety/depression/fear of flying on a short and long term basis. My approach is integrative and informed by psychodynamic tradition.… Read more

Written by Mehmet Hussein: PGDIP, MA, MBACP

Show comments

Find the right counsellor or therapist for you

All therapists are verified professionals.