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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How would I overcome a fear of falling?

    I have had an almost life long fear of falling, stemming, I think from an incident which occured when I was about 18 months old. I'm now in my 50s. I'm ok at any height, it's only when instability is added that there is a problem. I would rather walk through water across a river than try walking across a log just above the water.
    2nd part of the question: In your experience have you found that people who have been able to overcome the physical fear, eg: falling, found that they have more freedom from a psychological fear, eg: failing?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Julian McNally

    Counselling Psychologist, Psychologist

    Graded exposure. In your case that might mean something like this. You start with crossing a river or stream in the shallows, then across a log that is firmly embedded in the bed of the stream, then gradually reduce the stability of the log or increase its height out of the water. So a fair bit of engineering involved! Of course this will be more effective if you have trained yourself in some form of relaxation or meditation first.

    If that sounds like too much trouble, counselling might be more convenient. I would apply components of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy including defusion, acceptance and contact with the present moment (mindfulness practice) to loosen the hold the fear has over you. 

    This isnt a fear you'll totally eradicate, because to some extent fear of heights and falling is innate. So I would want to establish how this fear is reducing your enjoyment of life. If you're preoccupied by it and feel it in the absence of relevant stimuli (bridges, being up in tall buildings etc) that requires a deeper approach than if, for example, you work as a rigger and it only happens when you go up in the crane.

    For the second part of your question, in brief, no. This is just my experience, but usually people who have a specific phobia become more confident generally, but I haven't often seen an associated psychological fear in conjunction with a ‘physical’ fear.

  • 1

    Thanks

    Stephen Lockley

    Hypnotherapist

    Stephen will soon be returning from lecturing in the UK on his eclectic style of hypnotherapy and its effectiveness on clients with anxiety and depression. View Profile

    Have you considered using hypnosis to address your fear of falling? Having worked with many people who had a fear of falling, some of which stems from an incident that happened in their childhood. I find it a very effect therapy for dealing with these types of issues. My clients also report that they don’t have a psychological fear of falling after being helped. As the underlying cause for the issue has been resolved.

  • Ralph Graham

    Counsellor

    Ralph Graham, Counsellor, Psychotherapist, helping those who are affected by:grief, loss, anxiety, phobias, panic attack.And those who have been traumatised by:crime, assault, sexual abuse and ... View Profile

    Some good advice above.
    Fears like this that take up residence, started somewhere. Finding the beginning point is what some therapists set out to do because if the method addresses that initial "incident" successfully, the phobia lifts.

    This does not always happen in one session but it is not unusual.  If it does, no more sessions are necessary (unless you want to address other issues). This approach means that maintenance or management or gradually challenging you to become less affected becomes unnecessary.  

    If you wish to investigate this approach, you are welcome to send me a message
    (Make Enquiry) and depending on where you live, I will try to recommend a practitioner.
    Go well,
    Ralph Graham  :-)

  • Bruni (Brunhilde) Brewin

    Counsellor, Hypnotherapist

    Bruni Brewin is President Emeritus of The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association (AHA), the oldest and largest National Registration Body for hypnotherapists in Australia founded in 1949, ... View Profile

    What was the incident when you were 18 months old? How much more wisdom do you have now compared to when you were 18 months old? If you are a mum and your child had such an incident and they are now 50 have your parents done anything about it?  What worked, What didn't?

    We all have a fight or flight response for the purpose of keeping ourself safe. So it would make sense that something that is frightening to us puts in a fear to avoid us having to go through the same thing in the future. 

    These are some of the questions I would be asking you to find out more before discussing with you what might be useful to do in this situation. A therapist can have 20 clients all with the same feelings and yet each person can have a different reason of why they have that fear, and it is that reason that needs to be addressed.

    A client comes to mind that suffered with claustrophobia. He had no idea of why that would be. In hypnosis I took him back to the very first time he ever had that feeling. He started saying; "I can't get out... I can't get out..." and I asked him to tell me what he saw. He said that he couldn't get out of the birth canal when being born. Another client as a child was locked in a dark room by some boys as a joke and started panicking. Both incidences caused the same feeling that had never been released.

    Our mind works differently in hypnosis which is in the Alpha or even deeper brainwave level, and whilst desensitising you from the event is a valid therapy which can also be done in the mind in hypnosis, however, If you have had this feeling since an 18 month year old, then it would seem that your feeling, is a symptom of a very frightening or deeply distressing or disturbing experience that happened for an 18 month old.

    I would suggest that it would possibly not be a frightening event to a 50 year old who has more life experience, especially when you can rationalise that if you have a fear of walking on a log just above the water and you fell in you would come to no harm.

    Failing is a fear of not being good enough to not fail. So it could be having got rid of the first issue you have a different way at looking at life. And again, you don't say what you feel you fail at. People who have a fear, often don't have a good memory because their energy is taken up with their fear and they don't concentrate on what they want to remember and so it only goes into short-term memory but doesn't go into our long-term memory. There are ways you can learn to change that, but I suggest you take care of problem No.1 and look at the second issue after you have dealt with that.

    Not one therapy works for every person. So don't give up finding your answer.

    Another more unconventional therapy may be 'Faster EFT' or 'Psych-K'

    Cell biologist, Professor Bruce Lipton recommends hypnosis, EFT and Psych-K as a therapy for change because it gets the client into the same brainwave state where the problem lies, but I have seen many therapies help clients, and the thing that works best is that you work with a therapist that you are able to relate to that has the skills in their therapy to create that change for you.  Hopefully you will find your answer soon.

  • Bruni (Brunhilde) Brewin

    Counsellor, Hypnotherapist

    Bruni Brewin is President Emeritus of The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association (AHA), the oldest and largest National Registration Body for hypnotherapists in Australia founded in 1949, ... View Profile

    What was the incident when you were 18 months old? How much more wisdom do you have now compared to when you were 18 months old? If you are a mum and your child had such an incident and they are now 50 have your parents done anything about it?  What worked, What didn't?

    We all have a fight or flight response for the purpose of keeping ourself safe. So it would make sense that something that is frightening to us puts in a fear to avoid us having to go through the same thing in the future. 

    These are some of the questions I would be asking you to find out more before discussing with you what might be useful to do in this situation. A therapist can have 20 clients all with the same feelings and yet each person can have a different reason of why they have that fear, and it is that reason that needs to be addressed.

    A client comes to mind that suffered with claustrophobia. He had no idea of why that would be. In hypnosis I took him back to the very first time he ever had that feeling. He started saying; "I can't get out... I can't get out..." and I asked him to tell me what he saw. He said that he couldn't get out of the birth canal when being born. Another client as a child was locked in a dark room by some boys as a joke and started panicking. Both incidences caused the same feeling that had never been released.

    Our mind works differently in hypnosis which is in the Alpha or even deeper brainwave level, and whilst desensitising you from the event is a valid therapy which can also be done in the mind in hypnosis, however, If you have had this feeling since an 18 month year old, then it would seem that your feeling, is a symptom of a very frightening or deeply distressing or disturbing experience that happened for an 18 month old.

    I would suggest that it would possibly not be a frightening event to a 50 year old who has more life experience, especially when you can rationalise that if you have a fear of walking on a log just above the water and you fell in you would come to no harm.

    Failing is a fear of not being good enough to not fail. So it could be having got rid of the first issue you have a different way at looking at life. And again, you don't say what you feel you fail at. People who have a fear, often don't have a good memory because their energy is taken up with their fear and they don't concentrate on what they want to remember and so it only goes into short-term memory but doesn't go into our long-term memory. There are ways you can learn to change that, but I suggest you take care of problem No.1 and look at the second issue after you have dealt with that.

    Not one therapy works for every person. So don't give up finding your answer.

    Another more unconventional therapy may be 'Faster EFT' or 'Psych-K'

    Cell biologist, Professor Bruce Lipton recommends hypnosis, EFT and Psych-K as a therapy for change because it gets the client into the same brainwave state where the problem lies, but I have seen many therapies help clients, and the thing that works best is that you work with a therapist that you are able to relate to that has the skills in their therapy to create that change for you.  Hopefully you will find your answer soon.

  • Bruni (Brunhilde) Brewin

    Counsellor, Hypnotherapist

    Bruni Brewin is President Emeritus of The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association (AHA), the oldest and largest National Registration Body for hypnotherapists in Australia founded in 1949, ... View Profile

    What was the incident when you were 18 months old? How much more wisdom do you have now compared to when you were 18 months old? If you are a mum and your child had such an incident and they are now 50 have your parents done anything about it?  What worked, What didn't?

    We all have a fight or flight response for the purpose of keeping ourself safe. So it would make sense that something that is frightening to us puts in a fear to avoid us having to go through the same thing in the future. 

    These are some of the questions I would be asking you to find out more before discussing with you what might be useful to do in this situation. A therapist can have 20 clients all with the same feelings and yet each person can have a different reason of why they have that fear, and it is that reason that needs to be addressed.

    A client comes to mind that suffered with claustrophobia. He had no idea of why that would be. In hypnosis I took him back to the very first time he ever had that feeling. He started saying; "I can't get out... I can't get out..." and I asked him to tell me what he saw. He said that he couldn't get out of the birth canal when being born. Another client as a child was locked in a dark room by some boys as a joke and started panicking. Both incidences caused the same feeling that had never been released.

    Our mind works differently in hypnosis which is in the Alpha or even deeper brainwave level, and whilst desensitising you from the event is a valid therapy which can also be done in the mind in hypnosis, however, If you have had this feeling since an 18 month year old, then it would seem that your feeling, is a symptom of a very frightening or deeply distressing or disturbing experience that happened for an 18 month old.

    I would suggest that it would possibly not be a frightening event to a 50 year old who has more life experience, especially when you can rationalise that if you have a fear of walking on a log just above the water and you fell in you would come to no harm.

    Failing is a fear of not being good enough to not fail. So it could be having got rid of the first issue you have a different way at looking at life. And again, you don't say what you feel you fail at. People who have a fear, often don't have a good memory because their energy is taken up with their fear and they don't concentrate on what they want to remember and so it only goes into short-term memory but doesn't go into our long-term memory. There are ways you can learn to change that, but I suggest you take care of problem No.1 and look at the second issue after you have dealt with that.

    Not one therapy works for every person. So don't give up finding your answer.

    Another more unconventional therapy may be 'Faster EFT' or 'Psych-K'

    Cell biologist, Professor Bruce Lipton recommends hypnosis, EFT and Psych-K as a therapy for change because it gets the client into the same brainwave state where the problem lies, but I have seen many therapies help clients, and the thing that works best is that you work with a therapist that you are able to relate to that has the skills in their therapy to create that change for you.  Hopefully you will find your answer soon.

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