Introduction to the Course Flying in the Comfort Zone is a program of therapeutic learning that was written for patients and therapists alike. It is the accumulation of 28 years of work with fearful fliers, and in many cases, their therapists. Now I am able to offer the thirteen lessons in this book as a platform for continuing education for psychologists. Earning this privilege was not easy. There were a number of salient points taken into consideration that formed the rationale for offering the material in this book as a continuing education program for psychologists. Demographic studies suggest that there are between 32 and 50 million fearful fliers in the United States alone. For the most part, the fear of flying co-occurs with other anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. In the population sampled by the author of this program, at least 50 percent of the fearful fliers were receiving psychotropic medications for anxiety or depression, and one in eight fearful fliers from post-traumatic stress disorder. There were no CE programs offered to the community of licensed psychologists and other mental health professionals that address the dynamics and treatment of the fear of flying. Evidence from the European Association for Aviation Psychology (EAAP) suggests that specialized training is necessary for therapists to deal effectively with the fear of flying. The EAAP actually offers a certification in Aviation Psychology for therapists who wish to work with fearful fliers. Since no such program existed in the United States, offering education through the CE net work was a logical choice.

Michael P. Tomaro, Ph.D.

  • The CE program Flying in the Comfort Zone offers information and treatment concepts that are relevant to the treatment of other anxiety disorders as well. These concepts include, “Therapeutic Learning,” “Active Relaxation,” and “Toxic Perception.” The theoretical foundation for these and other concepts are derived from cognitive psychology, extinction theory, the General Adaptation Syndrome of Hans Selye, psychoanalysis, and neuropsychology.
  • The program has an extensive history in that the clinical material and applications have been developed over a 28-year period at General Mitchell International Airport in a class titled “Overcoming Your Fear of Flying.” The class, which has partial public support, is the longest running of its type in the world.
  • The material is easy to use and apply by patient and therapist alike. In many cases, patients have purchased the book and taken it to their therapist to read and use adjunctly in their own therapy, or to explore their fear of flying where specialized help was not geographically available.

 

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