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Treating "fear of flying" as a trauma case.

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Hi Everyone,

Sometimes phobias have many roots (aspects) that require our diligence before the relief can be completed. Along these lines, Dr. Carol Look gives us an inside look at a flying phobia with definite roots from other issues--including feeling alone.

Hugs, Gary


by Dr. Carol Look

While successful treatment of Fear of Flying is routine with EFT, I thought this case would be valuable because of the variety of aspects that emerged and how a phobia can be split into many layers and underlying aspects.

My client "Kim" had a goal to have a "drug-free flight" (no valium or sedatives) and hoped EFT would eliminate her fear/phobia of flying. As it turned out, (this is very common), the phobia emerged as a result of a previous miserable flight that had traumatized her. The EFT treatment was not a one-minute wonder. However, persistence paid off and Kim was able to have her first "drug-free flight" in more than 6 months. Using a variety of Set-ups, the treatment occurred over 2 sessions, one month apart.

We began by tapping for Kim's basic "fear of flying" and "fear of turbulence." We tapped for the "noise of turbulence" and the "butterflies" in her stomach when the plane felt unstable. During these rounds, Kim found mild relief from the intensity and fear, but solid comfort was definitely eluding her.

I asked Kim when the phobia first began, and whether there had been a specific event that precipitated these fears. Kim said she had never been calm about flying but that there was one flight in particular last year that had truly traumatized her. Specific feelings and memories of this flight that we separated into different aspects with varying set-ups were...

1) the fear of horrendous turbulence,

2) the memory of the flight attendant ignoring her,

3) the frustration when no one would answer her questions, and

4) the fear of being alone AND dying alone and not being able to contact her family.

There were many variations on these themes, but we had definitely hit the core of the intense phobic feelings. As it turned out, "feeling alone" ended up being the strongest aspect that needed tapping.

Many layers began to surface for Kim that were connected to feeling alone and afraid; she began crying so hard she couldn't catch her breath. She sounded like a small, frightened child. She gave me permission to tap on her face and top of the head while she narrated the story of this traumatic flight from beginning to end. She just kept talking about what happened on the flight, and about feeling scared and alone while I kept tapping and asking her questions about what happened next.

GC COMMENT: This "tapping while the client talks" technique can be quite effective because, during this time, the client is clearly tuned in to the issue. I do this often.

CAROL CONTINUES: Kim was greatly relieved after this first session, but not enough for her to feel comfortable on her next trip. During our second session, we tapped more on the "fear of being alone/dying alone" and how awful it felt when the "flight attendant ignored" her and wouldn't make eye contact or answer any questions.

When I asked Kim if anything else felt "stuck" in her memory, she said, "I keep seeing the in-flight movie that was playing at the time" as if the images were seared into her memory whenever she "tuned in" to the past flight. We tapped for the images in the movie until it didn't bother her any more. Then she said, "I know this sounds silly, but I keep seeing the small TV screen on the back of the seat jiggling up and down because of the turbulence." These images had become locked into her memory. We tapped for a few more rounds until nothing else "felt sticky."

A week later she announced "I had my first drug-free flight" in months. There was still some remaining anxiety regarding the sounds and movement of take-off. However she felt certain she could tap for herself for this remaining mild discomfort.

Dr. Carol Look

 

 

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