Fear of Driving
This phobia is fairly common. A surprising number of people get the shakes when driving over a high bridge or into a tunnel. Usually it is hard to pinpoint exactly why.
Yesterday I treated a woman who wanted to end her Fear of Driving. She said that she was OK around the back streets and normal driving. But when she got to a road with a drop off at the side, or a narrow part, she lost all her confidence.
The source of the fear
I asked when this started and she said it began about three years ago and had got progressively worse. She told me she was out driving one day when suddenly, out of nowhere, came an overwhelming sense of fear. Since that day she has been afraid of the feeling coming back. She tries to avoid driving so that she will not be exposed to feeling again.
This is a classic description of how phobia is created. You are doing something distinct like driving or flying, and then you experience an overwhelming fear, and then your mind links the fear to the activity, and you have a phobia.
Normally it is impossible to say exactly what created the link. But in this case, the woman recognised the fear. Her son had died suddenly ten years before and this was the same overwhelming pain she had experienced at the time. Something she was doing or thinking at that moment reactivated the initial feeling. The pain gets linked to the driving activity, and the Fear of Driving phobia is triggered.
Most phobias are not about the obvious activity. Fear of Driving is not about the driving, it is about not wanting to get that old fear again. The cure for phobias is to eliminate the origin of the fear.
In this case the mother had never gotten over the death of her son. She was still carrying around that dread that something else bad would happen. So the answer was to lay the old fear to rest.
Removing fear of driving
I hypnotised her and put her into a deep trance. Then I suggested that she visualize a chair in front of her. Then I gently suggested that there was someone sitting in the chair, someone who wanted to talk to her. Someone who was taken away from her and didn't get the chance to say goodbye. I suggested that this person wanted to give her one last message before going away.
I developed a dialogue saying to my client what a son would want to say to his mother. Then I let her say to him what she wanted to say. I suggest that he was reaching out to her, and most movingly, she extended her arm out to where the chair might be. And slowly, tears rolled down her face.
I finished the session by suggesting that her son had a gift he wanted to pass to her, and that he was saying "I'm OK mum. It's time to go now. I love you". He then got into a car and drove away, until the tail lights faded in the distance.
I let her come back to the present in her own time. She said to me "I feel such a feeling of relief". And that was the end of it.
He is highly regarded in the hypnotherapy community. He is Vice President of the New Zealand Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (NZAPH).
He is regularly consulted for advice by other hypnotherapists around the world. He is known for the quality of his published scripts. He presents at international conferences and has published on hypnosis and advanced hypnotherapy.
He lives in Wellington New Zealand with his wife Trish and a cat called Parsnip.