Amanda* was confident, and outgoing, had a rich social life, and had been the natural choice as her friend’s chief bridesmaid. She was looking forward to everything about the wedding so why then had she asked to see me? It was the location of the wedding – it was in Cyprus, and Amanda was terrified of flying and wanted hypnotherapy for flight phobia.
“I don’t want to let her down”, she told me “but I just can’t see myself going. I went on a fear of flying day at Manchester Airport and left early because the thought of getting on the plane was upsetting me so much.”
Amanda explained that her fear stemmed from bad turbulence on the return from Tenerife a few years before. What had panicked her most was the worried look on a stewardess’s face, and ever since then Amanda had avoided flying.
It wasn’t really flying she was avoiding though, but the possibility of feeling that scared again. After discussing some other explanations for why the stewardess might have looked worried, I helped Amanda find a “trigger” gesture that calmed her down if she felt anxious as we started the hypnotherapy for flight phobia.
Equipped with this Amanda then relaxed, imagining herself sat at the back of the Regal Cinema, able to see the back of herself sitting much nearer the front, whilst the screen showed her flight back from Tenerife. She then started and she watched herself watching the film of the turbulence, first normally, and then backwards. Then the film repeated, but in black and white, and once again, but this time at double speed as well.
Once she felt comfortable with this Amanda imagined herself sitting nearer the front, looking directly at the screen. Once again we repeated the film, making it sillier and less threatening each time, and as Amanda loved the Simpsons, as a Simpsons style cartoon as well – by now she was finding peoples’ reaction to the turbulence comical. The final stage was for her to imagine stepping into the film, and going through the turbulence again, but this time equipped with her trigger and without finding it frightening to think about.
We’ll end with a montage – Amanda leaving my office feeling much more confident; Amanda telling her friend that she’ll do it; a plane taking off from Manchester; and Amanda on the beach in Cyprus smiling as her friend gets married.
Amanda’s real identity has been protected, and she is happy to share her story of overcoming her fear by using hypnotherapy for flight phobia.