Do you avoid booking summer holidays that involves flying to your destination? Then, you need to be aware of a new therapy approach that can have you winging your way to faraway places in no time. You can don a virtual reality headset and with the guidance of a trained counsellor and learn to tackle your biggest fears.
A fear of flying can be different for each person. For one person, it’s the fear of crashing, whereas for someone else it could be about being in a closed space or having a panic attack on the plane. People tend to cope with this fear through:
- Avoiding air travel, which can impact both on leisure options and business travel;
- Turning down promotions that involve increased travel; and
- Using alcohol or sedatives during the flight.
If that sounds like you, then you should consider Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT). VRT isn’t as simple as downloading an app or using your gaming VR headset at home. It’s used by trained counsellors in combination with guided relaxation and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to treat a variety of fears and phobias from spiders, to heights and public speaking.
VR therapy targets the subconscious mind, which cannot tell the difference between the virtual and the real environment. Biometric sensors allow the therapist to monitor your anxiety levels as you are gradually introduced to anxiety-provoking situations – the taxi ride to the airport; waiting at the boarding gate; getting ready for take-off; or experiencing bad weather and turbulence.
Fears and phobias respond very well to exposure therapy. The more times a sufferer is exposed to the stressful situation, it appears less threatening and the more desensitized they will become which will ease their symptoms.
The advantage of using VR is that unlike a real airplane or airport, the therapist is in control all the time, carefully managing the environment and reminding you of the relaxation techniques you have been taught. The therapist teaches you skills to manage both the physical symptoms of anxiety as well as to change the thoughts that cause anxiety. You can then practice these skills in the VR environment.
Successful treatment of fears relies on a gradual, regular, repeated and sustained exposure to the trigger. Prior to VR the therapist would have had to rely on visualization techniques, but clients could easily use avoidance defense mechanisms when they became stressed. Also, they would have to travel to airports and possibly even take a flight together. VR provides a far more controlled and (depending on the fear) affordable, step between the safe environment of the therapist’s office and the real world.
If you want to find out if VR Therapy might work for you, contact us for a free initial consultation.