about the therapies
We use a combination of psychological therapy techniques in a safe, relaxing client-centered approach which draws upon counseling, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), guided imagery and breathing techniques - to bring about subconscious change to our anxious thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Using these techniques, you can regain control over your anticipatory anxiety before you board your flight, and can rely upon special programming to regulate the release of unhelpful stress hormones during trigger points in the flight itself. Used in association with simply-explained lessons about the more theoretical and technical aspects of flying, this integrated approach can be a very powerful therapy to manage flying anxiety. Some of the techniques are explained below.
Put simply, hypnosis is a way of helping people to feel very relaxed and to respond to helpful suggestions that are for their wellbeing. It's not the same as being asleep as during hypnosis you are still aware of what's going on around you - you are always in control! As a rule, we use hypnosis in the controlled and safe environment of the therapy room
although some hypnotic techniques can safely be included in our online consultations. For dealing with a fear of flying, hypnotherapy is particularly useful for uncovering and dealing with certain causative factors that are maintaining your flying phobia, and also for 'rehearsing' your future effective performance.
It is useful to think of the human mind as consisting of two layers. The outer layer is our conscious mind which deals with our daily decision-making processes and is intelligent, realistic, logical and proactive. The conscious mind uses rational thought to problem-solve and act, but is only able to deal with a very few things at any one time and is easily overloaded. When capacity is reached any additional information is stored away in the filing system of the subconscious mind, which is concerned with our emotions, imagination and memories as well as our sympathetic nervous system which controls the functioning of our fight or flight response. The interlinking of these functions mean that the mind affects the body and vice versa.
When you encounter something unfamiliar (maybe turbulence on a flight), you learn a particular behaviour in response to what happened. Each time something similar happens, your physical and emotional reactions attached to the memory are repeated. In some cases, these reactions are unhealthy and repetition reinforces the suggestion, causing you anxiety symptoms. Hypnotherapy is the means by which you can reprogramme your old or unwanted behaviour patterns, or create new, more positive ones. In the hypnotic state, you accept beneficial suggestions that allow you to change your attitude so that you can do the things you want to do - or not do the things you don't want to do.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave and is commonly used to treat anxiety. It is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle. CBT aims to help you break down overwhelming problems into smaller parts and show you how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel. Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past.
Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP)
During the 1970s Richard Bandler and John Grinder researched how effective people communicate to find out how this could be passed on and replicated by anyone. They called this process neuro-linguistic programming; it codes how we think (neuro), how we communicate (linguistic) and how we get the results (programming). NLP delves beyond the conscious mind to understand the processes running at the unconscious level which control behaviour. A core principle of NLP is 'If you always do what you've always done you will always get what you've always got'. In other words, if your current behaviour is unconsciously not getting you what you want in life then by making this unconscious behaviour conscious, you can make more resourceful choices and get a better result!
Learning About Flying - the Technical Stuff
In your brain there is a high-level thinking and decision-making system known as the Executive Function. In situations where we feel that we are not in control (such as being a passenger on a plane) and something unexplained or unexpected happens (maybe turbulence) then our Executive Function system may no longer be able to control our primitive 'fight or flight' response from automatically bombarding us with anxiety-producing stress hormones. We can, however, bolster the capabilities of our Executive Function by having enough technical knowledge about aviation matters - after all, pilots do not get routinely stressed on a flight! Our sessions will therefore incorporate sufficient factual know-how to put your logical mind at ease. Your experienced therapist is also an instructor with the RAF Air Training Corps and a former CAA qualified Flying Instructor.
“I had not flown in 7 years and anxiety for flying was 100% before meeting Harry – now it’s 10% if that” G.M. – Dunfirmline
"Hello just a quick email to say thank you. Flight today went really well, no panic attacks and was slight turbulence but managed to handle it. Fingers crossed return flight is the same. Thanks again." E.R. - Blairgowrie
"I would just like to say a big thank you for your help …… I honestly can't remember the last time I flew feeling so calm and relaxed. Once again thank you for your life changing help" D.B. - Kirkwall
“Dear Harry, I hope you're well and not working too hard. This is the proof that I've reached Pisa as planned albeit with some huge challenges to overcome. The flight was a little bumpy but almost perfect … The take-off was probably the most difficult part to tackle. As the plane became fully airborne, it became easier to control myself exactly how you told me to by rubbing my right hand thumb along with my finger-tips. In the end I was able to feel a sense of great success for myself and my family who were truly happy that I made it. I hope the return trip is going to be just as good.” A.R. - Dundee
“On the departure flight everything seemed to move promptly from boarding. I was understandably still anxious. However I did all my homework onboard & found that a helpful distraction. I listened to meditation music as I counted from 5-1 with what I could feel & hear. Whilst focusing on my breathing. When I was up in the air, I just visualised being back in your office & the noise changes etc. I had my bottle of water on my table & it was quite turbulent on the flight out. You were so right it hardly moved! I felt reassured by that throughout. I focused on the water a lot during those episodes … We seemed to fly much lower coming up from down south then the descent was so gradual. I hardly felt it descend, we landed so calmly … I will write you a review Harry, thank you. If I need to come back in the future I definitely will & will recommend you to anyone. I only had one thought about being claustrophobic, however it was a passing thought. I just looked at my seat from to the front & never looked behind. You definitely helped with that also … I just asked [my partner] the difference: he said that prior to this, I was anxious & stressed about every noise, movement, turbulent episode. Whereas he found me much calmer this time”. Y.C. - Scone