Can CBT help me manage claustrophobia - Especially on flights?

I suffer from claustrophobia when flying on a plane. I often get anxious before the flight and it intensifies as I get closer to boarding the plane and even worse when the plane doors shut and I have no chance to escape.
Asked by Eli

Hi Eli, 

Thanks for asking this question! Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you feel better about flying and get help with your claustrophobia. As with all therapy, it will take some hard work on your end but it will be worth it in the long run. 

As humans, so many of our thoughts and behaviors are based on feelings and our feelings based on thoughts and behaviors. It is likely that your fear of small spaces and of flying is based on thoughts that you are having. CBT will help you to reframe those thoughts into more helpful ones. When you are flying, if you are thinking things like "wow! it's so beautiful to look out the window" or "I am so excited to get where I am going!", you are going to have much more positive feelings than if you are thinking about the small space and other flying related fears. I know, easier said than done! The part to remember is that it can be done. 

Most fears can be lessened if we think about them differently. Another helpful thing that CBT can help you with is to look at the facts. For example; how many planes are flying each day? How many of these end up in life threatening situations? Focus on those facts. Of course there is always a chance for negative things to happen in any aspect of life but many of those things are out of our control. We have to focus on those things that we can control. That does seem to be what you are doing by asking this question! You are trying to find a way to take control of your thoughts, which will in turn take control of your feelings and your behaviors. From my perspective, that is what CBT gives us; control of ourselves. It is wonderful to have control of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This can give you better control of your life and can lead to things being in your favor more frequently. A branch of cognitive behavioral therapy, DBT, tells us that the less we allow our emotional minds to take over and gain the ability to rely on logic and emotions together, the more informed and appropriate decisions we will make. 

I wish you the best with this!