Dubai

Campaign helps Dubai residents control their fears

2016/03/23:

Everyone is scared of something – even Indiana Jones was frightened of snakes. Fears can be rational and keep us safe, but they can also be debilitating, particularly when they interfere with your everyday life.

Samsung has launched the campaign, ‘Be Fearless’, aimed at helping people overcome their fears using technology. Whether fear of heights or public speaking, the sessions coach participants by creating scenarios using virtual reality systems.

Muhammed Ummer (pictured), a Dubai resident was one case study. The 20-year-old loves planes and wanted to become a pilot. But due to his fear of heights, he chose to work as an aerospace engineer instead. Samsung provided virtual reality programmes that exposed Muhammed to simulated altitude.

The sessions culminated with a ‘flight’ on the breathtaking XDubai zipline over the Dubai Fountains. This has empowered Muhammed to rethink his dream of becoming a pilot.

Counselling psychologist at Lighthouse Arabia, Madeeha Afridi says that different methods can work for different people. “So much of the process of overcoming fears and healing is in the relationship and rapport between psychologist and client – the human to human communication and relationship.

“Having said that, if or when it is suitable for a client to use virtual reality simulation, under professional health care, complimented with the therapy they are receiving, I could see it being helpful for some clients who may benefit from it as a form of exposure therapy.”

Madeeha explains that often our fears stem from previous experiences in life, whether we’re aware of it or not. “All symptoms of fears that people have, have a root cause, and more commonly than not, it roots in their childhood experiences. For example, a client who may present with symptoms of fear of flying may have someone close to them who has the same fears, or hearing or watching news related to airplanes crashing impacted their thoughts and beliefs about flying.

“An unprocessed life event can evolve into a fear, which makes it very important for individuals to develop their emotional intelligence so they are not left vulnerable when they are faced with difficult times in their life.”

We don’t all have access to virtual reality training systems, so how can us everyday Joes overcome our fears? Madeeha explains that it needs to be done on a case-by-case basis.

“Each individual is different so the approach of overcoming their fears must be tailored for them to be sustainable.”

She recommends working with a psychologist or specialist. “I do believe that facing and processing fears can be a liberating and transformative experience for individuals. In regards to facing fears ‘head-on,’ I feel some people, due to their extremely difficult life experiences are unable to do this, and they should not have a misconception that their fears have to be dealt with head-on