If you have a fear of flying, you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S., the percentage of people who have a fear of flying so intense that it qualifies as a phobia or anxiety disorder and keeps them off an airplane is close to 6.5 per cent.
In response to this need, two Australian clinical psychologists have launched the world’s first app that combines an effective scientific approach called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is used as a treatment of fear of flying, with innovative interactive technology to deliver individualised therapy programmes that help people to overcome their fears.
Launched by Brian Tuckfield and Chris Edwards at CBS Solutions, the Master Fear of Flying app is the product of extensive research into the nature of fears and phobias, treatment of their patients in clinical practice and close to seven years of design and development.
Brian Tuckfield, Director said, “When someone experiences anxiety related to the fear of flying, a number of thoughts, emotions, sensations, and behaviours contribute to their feelings of discomfort. By using an innovative diagnostic tool, the app helps a user to identify and discover everything that contributes to their fear of flying.”
“The app then provides the user a customised personal recovery plan that is designed to help the user overcome their specific fear of flying. This includes the download of interactive audio tracks to their iPhone, iPad or iPod.”
“Most of the tracks involve listening to a therapy session between a client and therapist and encourages the listener to explore their own specific thoughts and emotions,” Brian said.
“The personal recovery plan provides users with really powerful psychological strategies and techniques to help master their fear of flying by enabling them to learn new ways of thinking and feeling about their fears.”
Prof.Justin Kenardy, Professor of Psychology and Medicine, University of Queensland in his review of the Master Fear of Flying app said, “The content in the app is excellent, using what I would consider best practice in flying phobia….very useful as an adjunct to treatment and as a stand-alone treatment. The audio and interface makes it very useful while a user is at the airport or on the plane.”
Chris Edwards, Director said, “The program also uses imaginal exposure techniques. Simply put, this involves exposing users to the scary triggers and images that pop into their head about flying. For example, users are asked to imagine sitting in the airport, boarding their aircraft and taking off and landing, as they listen to a realistic soundtrack of these very activities.
Chris said that research shows the more someone exposes themselves to scary triggers and images that pop into their head about flying, the less anxious they will be when they actually fly.
In an independent case study, one user (an ex-air hostess) reported that, “Fear of flying was ruining my life.... the app was very straightforward, it explained situations on board the plane that I experienced and it told me why I felt that way. Most importantly, it gave me a solid strategy to cope. I've taken 14 flights since using the programme and I've not medicated once. I even had turbulence and remained calm.”
Other users have said that the app has helped them to overcome what they believed was an all-consuming challenge and that they too have been liberated from their fear of flying.
Master Fear of Flying is now available for download in the Apple App Store. Later this year, the company will launch a version suitable for use on Android operating systems.
CBS Solutions was established by Brian Tuckfield and Chris Edwards, two Australian clinical psychologists who founded and co-direct the Anxiety Disorders and Trauma Clinic (ADTC) in Adelaide.
Brian worked for 5 years as a Clinical Researcher with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Adelaide researching the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the treatment of trauma. Subsequently he joined with Chris Edwards in founding and co-directing the Anxiety Disorders and Trauma Clinic (ADTC) in Adelaide 10 years ago. While working with Chris Edwards at ADTC they worked with many people requesting assistance for fears of flying.
Chris was the former Director of the Centre for Treatment of Anxiety and Depression a joint Mental Health/ University of Adelaide treatment service. This role involved training and supervision of a team of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and trainees from both disciplines. He has specialised in the provision of evidence based treatments for the anxiety disorders for more than 25 years. His treatment methods arise from extensive training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapies and the adoption of a scientist practitioner perspective. He is currently working as a clinical psychologist on the Sunshine Coast.