NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — About 20 million Americans have a fear of flying, but a clinic at Hofstra University is using virtual reality to help people overcome those fears.

The advanced computer system at Hofstra’s Phobia and Trauma Clinic immerses the phobic patient into real-life flying situations — an approach Dr. Mitchell Schare says has proven success.

“Somewhere between 93 and 96 percent will fly following the therapy,” he told CBS2’s Alex Denis.

Results are promising, but patients should prepare to face fears head on.

Armed with digital glasses, head phones and a remote control, patients can walk around the terminal, board planes and experience takeoff and landing while in a seat that simulates turbulence.

Guided by advanced  doctoral students and monitored by licensed professionals, patients will be challenged to overcome anxiety once in the air. They’ll fly through storms and be surrounded by crying babies and sick passengers, which are all known anxiety triggers.

“We will specialize the therapy so that we will approach their issues and their concerns while being in a safe environment,” said Schare.

Sessions are $40. Treatment typically consists of eight to 12 sessions. Therapists will even accompany patients to an airport to help identify fears.

If you’re on a tighter schedule, the center offers an intensive three-day clinic where on the last day, patients board a plane and take off.

The center also offers help with fears of public speaking, animals, heights and many others.

For more information, click here.


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