This is the end of the series looking at all the different therapies out there that we hear about. The types of help that people have tried before they come to us; Or, in combination with us. This brings us to what do we actually use on our courses then?
We use a combination of therapies. Here's why.
Our Potted history
Around 1996, we wrote to Richard Branson and suggested that we run courses and also have an on board relaxation channel. He went initially for the group courses and after a couple of years, we were also able to get a relaxation channel on every Virgin aircraft.
We started the courses using an aircraft mock-up/simulator and ran the course in small groups. People that attended our course, would then go onto fly when they were ready. After a number of years, it was Richard Conway's idea to use actual aircraft. He was listening to the clients that we had and they felt so reassured by what we had to say, they wanted to do an accompanied flight with us. So, in 2002/3, we started running the courses with flights at the end of each course.
Our approach to the day was to keep the staff ratio high, divide the groups into tables of 10 with their own team leader. No matter how many people we have on our courses, we have kept the same staff ratio.
Over the years, we have trialled lots of different psychological techniques to see which were the most effective for helping nervous fliers. Initially, we used relaxation and visualisation techniques. This was actually very good. The only people that didn't get as much from this session, were those that don't do relaxation generally. They would find it very hard to relax at all. We were always on the lookout for what else we could be doing on our courses.
We have kept attending the odd outside course here and there to increase our own skills to 'see what is out there.' As this is written in 2012, we use the following areas on our course:
Neuro Linguistic Programming
Thought Field Therapy
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Solution Focussed Coaching
Richard and Paul, the Co-Directors, both have training and psychology backgrounds so there are elements of this that creep into the course. Our main therapist has studied quite a few things that don't appear here because as you get better at your 'art' you tend to create your own individualised therapies too. We don't use Hypnotherapy even though Paul is trained in it. Not because it is rubbish. But because, people are very suspicious of it generally.
Each and every course, Richard, Paul and the team discuss what could have been done better. What could we have done to make the course just that little bit more special... Ah, the pursuit of perfection!
Over the last 15+ years, the courses have grown and grown. We have been so fortunate to have had such support from the media who always talk about us favourably. We have had our fair share of celebs we have helped too. Some we can talk about such as Whoopi, Jamima Khan, Liz McClarnon and others that just appear on our course without telling us. These, like every client we help, have a right to privacy.
We love what we are doing. We are so passionate about helping people that we even ran the course at a loss for several years.
If 20 people plucked up the courage to attend a course, we just had to run it.
We keep going. We have learned so much about fear of flying over the years it has been incredible. We have simply a brilliant team that work with us on the courses and behind the scenes. We are here to help people beat their fear of flying. We were asked several years ago to run courses in the US which we may do yet... We have lots of other plans too that will help people even more and more. Our I Phone App was first of its kind and was very popular. We have upgraded that too as we explore more ways to use technology to help people. It sometimes saddens us that our 'competitors' waste so much time knocking what we do. But we have stopped worrying about them and just concentrate on getting on with the job in hand. We are here to help people get back flying comfortably or to start flying.
We see around 2-3,000 people per year. We particularly love that our course gives people back choices in their lives.
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear