Meredith does FOFC…

Very few people know about my phobias…..probably because I know that most would find them silly or unfounded.  I have been able to overcome one of them-my fear of squirrels.  I know that will have several people scratching their heads wondering-so if anyone NEEDS to know how that fear came about and how I conquered it, I will email you directly!

Fear of flying is a common phobia?

However, one phobia that I have been unable to conquer and will have to face VERY VERY soon is common. I am afraid to fly.  It wasn’t always this way.  I had a “rough” flight returning to the U.S. from Asia.  The flight crew actually suggested I see a doctor and get anxiety medication….they told me that most of the plane was upset because of how I reacted on the flight.  I kissed the ground and swore off planes forever.

Or so I thought….

I have my very first business trip coming up a week from tomorrow, and it involves a flight.  This is a huge opportunity for me so when my boss mentioned it, I was incredibly excited.  Then reality sunk in, and I started to panic.  I was sitting in a meeting and there was smoke from a smoke stack passing by the windows.  It felt like I was in a plane and going through the clouds.  I could feel myself tensing up as I gripped my chair and put both feet firmly on the ground. At one point, I actually think I was looking for a seat belt!

Wanting to avoid another  ‘incident’ , I weighed my options.  I could try to get in and see a doctor.  Can you imagine this….picture it:

Me:  Hi-I am a nervous flyer and the last time I flew the airline recommended I visit a physician for a one-time dose of anti-anxiety medication.  I know you don’t know me, but I need a Xanax. We cool?

Doctor:  Um. No.

As much as I want to believe that they would just hand over a pill, in the long term-is the medication the real solution?  Is it going to ‘band-aid’ the symptoms or get behind the root cause of the actual phobia?

What does one do when in this situation? Why, they Google of course.  That’s exactly what I did and that is what brought me to The Behavior Institute aka FOFC (fear of flying clinic).  Conveniently located 2 blocks north of my house-average google walking time 5 minutes.

After a brief conversation with Paul Griesbach (therapist), I made an appointment for today at 3pm.  I had no idea what to expect, and am skeptical by nature.  However, I decided to go with an open mind-after all, this is for me right?

Here is a photo of the building:

The Behavior Institute-it's actually on the left! Black door!

Paul was finishing up with a client-so I waited in the waiting area (which is more of a foyer with chairs).  The walls are covered with framed letters and articles of Paul and all of the work he has done with people and their phobias.  It was interesting-but if you readers know me the way I think you do, then you know I have checked this guy out prior to walking in.  Here’s what I found about him:

Paul Griesbach

Paul Griesbach graduated from Temple University with an MA in Clinal Psychology in 1976. Paul is a practicing behavioral therapist since then with a razor sharp ability to cut through consumer rhetoric and confusion and get to the raw drivers that are causing behavior. Paul has worked with Air Canada, Canadian Airlines and Wardair (1978-1992) in the treatment of Fearful Flyers, including working on the development of a program to treat Fearful Flyers. Paul has also been working with the Behaviour Therapy Institute for over 30 years specializing in the treatment of Anxiety Disorders, Phobias and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders.

Not too shabby, eh? So I walk into Paul’s office and here is what I see (I am not going to comment yet-you just look at the pictures and scroll down):

Um hi creepy!! Don’t you think? So before I sat down, I asked him what was going on in his office.  He explained to me that he is a collector of art…and that the items in the office were pieces that he had picked up on his many travels.

And speaking of travels, he jumped right in and asked what my fears were exactly.  I simply said that I didn’t want to die on the flight.  He threw some statistics at me and I told him I didn’t care what the numbers were-that I didn’t know the people that were flying the plane and that regardless of the credentials of the various employees and technicians, I was still not comfortable.  There were some more exchanges, more statistics, and more of me describing my lack of comfort on a ‘tin can in the sky.’

The hour went by suprisingly fast and Paul left me with my thought/phrase to remember until our next meeting, which was “Even if there is turbulence, it won’t harm me.  It’s a pain in the *ss, but it has a beginning, middle, and an end.  The duration will be short.”

I have to say I left feeling lighter and less anxious.  I am looking forward to my next appointment and I am glad I made a conscious decision to go with an open mind.  Paul is definitely ‘different’ but that intrigues me, and I am interested in what he has to say and whether it will make a difference.

How about you? Any phobias?  Have you conquered anything lately?

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  • Paola Huizar

    Wow!!! this sounds like an interesting experience, and kudos to you for facing your fear in such way!!! I’m intrigued by the big “collection” of saints and religious stuff he has… definitely keep us posted on how the next sessions with him unfold. All the best. I’m sure this will soon be one more challenge conquered for you!

    • meredith

      Thanks-it was definitely interesting. I really want this to work so I am going back on Wednesday!

  • Liz

    Wow! That’s intense… and I must say, I find his interior design taste a little too much… But nevertheless, if he helps you conquer your fear, then we won’t judge his decor abilities… lol…

    You will beat this, like you beat your squirrel phobia.

    I can’t wait to hear all about session #2. Keep us posted!

    • meredith

      He said to me, “you probably think I am eccentric” and I replied, “that’s not what I was thinking but it was close”

      I am quite certain he does not know what he’s in for with me!