As a hypnotherapist I see a lot of people who have specific fears and phobias. The one that is the most common is a fear of flying. Some people have always felt anxious about flying whilst others have spent many years getting onto planes without any problem but have then developed a fear of flying.
A lot of people will grit their teeth and spend the entire flight – and often days or weeks leading up to it – in a state of agitation and fear. Others will ask their doctor for medication or find their own way of dulling their emotions. Some people just refuse to fly which can be limiting for both pleasure and work and can cause friction in relationships.
Using hypnotherapy to reduce a fear of flying is a very obvious thing to do. Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis to help people make changes in their lives. There are several factors that are a key part of hypnosis.
- Thoughts affect feelings and feelings affect thoughts. In the majority of people feelings have more influence than thoughts. If something causes a strong emotion it will have more effect than logical thought.
If you are feeling terrified, all the facts that people tell you about why you shouldn’t be scared won’t have any effect. Your strong emotion overrides the logical part of your brain.
2. Hypnosis uses a suggestion, a belief in that suggestion and then repetition of that suggestion.
So, if you have a fear of flying then you are already experiencing hypnosis. You think about flying which brings up the fear, which then makes the thought even worse which reinforces the fear.
A hypnotherapist can help you to change those thought patterns by reducing the fear and allowing new thought patterns and feelings to establish themselves. If you have never felt comfortable about flying then you would be creating a new experience. If you have flown without fear in the past then you can tap into some of your past experience and use that.
If you would like to use hypnotherapy to reduce your fear of flying then I would recommend seeing a hypnotherapist for a personal session that is tailored for your specific issues.
Hypnotherapists and their sessions vary so it is important to find someone who you feel comfortable with and who you think can help you. There are lots of competent hypnotherapists but often you will relate to one better than another or you prefer the way in which they work. Find out how to choose the best hypnotherapist for you.
The number of sessions can vary from 1 to 8, although the average seems to be around 3 or 4. There are several reasons for this. A hypnotherapist may prefer to do more sessions because of the techniques they use or because they want to address the fear in more depth. You may need more sessions because the fear of flying is related to other anxiety as well and you don’t like making changes quickly. The length of the sessions can also affect the number that are needed.
In a hypnotherapy session the hypnotherapist will ask you about your fear. This could include how it affects you, how long you’ve had it, if you know why and when it started. You could also be asked about other aspects of your life as well to find out if there are other factors that could be relevant.
Most hypnotherapists will start the hypnosis part of the session by taking you into a relaxed state. This is because when you are relaxed your mind is more open to change – and you will feel more comfortable. You may also have been given a hypnosis relaxation track to listen to before your session. If you find it difficult to relax then just let the hypnotherapist know because there are other techniques that could be used instead.
Some hypnotherapists will take you into that relaxed state and then give you suggestions for feeling comfortable whilst flying. They will talk you through an enjoyable flying experience.
Others will use some analysis techniques during the session. They may ask questions about your fear and your experiences and then give suggestions that are related to that.
You may also be taught some self hypnosis so that you can use it after the session and on occasions when you are going to fly. You probably won’t need to use them for the rest of your life but self hypnosis can be really helpful to reinforce the suggestions from the hypnotherapy sessions and to give you confidence for future flights. Remember – suggestion, belief in the suggestion and then repetition of it. You will be following the same pattern that you used to follow when you thought about flying but now in a positive way rather than a negative one.
The question everyone wants to know is “what is it like being hypnotised?” One way to describe it is that it is a bit like daydreaming. You are aware of what is happening but your mind also drifts. It’s also similar to when you’re watching a good film and you get totally caught up in it. You can be aware that you’re watching a film but you are also engaged by it. People usually say they felt relaxed. Often people can’t explain why they feel differently about flying. It’s just a process their mind has gone through and they simply know that they do feel different.
Another common question is “will it work for me?” If you are open minded and willing to try it then it’s very likely that it will work – even if you are skeptical and don’t see how it can work. If your mind has been creating a fear of flying then, as I said earlier, you have already been experiencing hypnosis. So, it’s highly likely that hypnosis can also help you to get rid of the fear.
Sharon Stiles is a hypnotherapist and offers sessions in Bristol UK and worldwide by webcam for reducing fear and anxiety