(NEW YORK) — A woman who suffered from severe acrophobia conquered her fear of heights by facing her anxieties head-on as part of a new Good Morning America campaign that launched Friday called “Face Your Fears.”
Jane Fisher, 35, of Atlanta, climbed a 21-foot ladder live on GMA before anxiously stepping onto a trapeze platform to go flying high through the air.
“I’m ready to fly,” Fisher proudly said moments before taking the leap at Fearless Flyers Academy in Mystic, Connecticut.
And with that courageous attitude, she pulled it off.
Psychologist Ellen Koch, a professor at Eastern Michigan University who specializes in “one-session exposure therapy,” has been helping Fisher train to get to this point.
“For Jane, she was very motivated to overcome her fear and that was really helpful for her,” Koch said. “And it was really important for her to learn about the anxiety process and that it was important for her to confront her fear, and let the anxiety come down and that she’ll be fine with that, as opposed to trying to fight it or avoid it like she had done in the past.”
Once Fisher climbed down from the net that caught her brave jump, she told GMA that she was “feeling awesome.”
“I feel fearless,” she added. “Well, not fearless, but I just feel good.”
She said the hardest part of the entire ordeal was getting from the ladder to the platform 21-feet in the air, “and just trying to reassure yourself there’s a net underneath, and then from there it helps the anxiety go down,” she explained.
To help her build up to this experience, GMA sent Fisher to the Trapeze School New York to help her face her fears head-on by working with Koch.
“I freeze, I get sweaty palms,” Fisher said at the time. “I’m getting sweaty palms thinking about it.”
Koch’s “one-session exposure therapy” is based on the premise that if you repeatedly flee from your anxieties, you actually reinforce that fear. But if you stay put and face the fear a little at a time, the anxiety will eventually subside.
“We’ll have her take one step at a time,” Koch said of Fisher at the start of her treatment. “We’ll let her sort of pace treatment and so when she’s ready, she’ll take the next step up the ladder and we’ll go one step at a time until she gets to the top.”
Koch added that she believes such therapy is so effective that Fisher’s lifelong fear of heights could be cured in three hours.
And Friday on GMA, Fisher proved to herself that it worked.
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