Hypnosis for Driving Anxiety
“I had no concerns getting on Route 90…I felt like a normal driver.”
“I’ve done many highway drives and drives on roads that were an issue when we started together. I’ve been driving on the highway just about every day. So, fantastic progress.”
- Edward Crowley, Andover
“It was nothing. I just went on the highway easily. It was very natural. I’m very happy with everything, it’s benefited me far more than I ever would’ve imagined.”
- Kayla Reed, Quincy
“I drive go to work , I drive to get groceries - just like a regular person! If someone told me I would be driving one year ago, I wouldn’t have believed it in a million years!”
- Priya, Boston
How I help my clients resolve driving anxiety.
The Driving Anxiety Problem
Logically, you know you should be able to drive on highways. You probably used to be able to…you’ve seen everyone else do it…maybe you’ve even really tried to force yourself to do it. Consciously…rationally…intellectually…you know it’s safe. You should feel fine.
But you don’t. There’s a part of your mind that sends a very powerful signal of fear. Your heart races. Your stomach clenches. You’re terrified. You can’t get yourself to drive on a highway.
The Driving Anxiety Solution
To use hypnosis to work directly with the part of your mind that’s sending that fear signal. So you have the chance to bring help directly to that subconscious/emotional part of your mind – the part that doesn’t care about all those reasons why you should feel fine. So you have the chance to genuinely SOLVE the problem where it’s happening rather than just talking about it or learning techniques to manage it.
The way clients structure their driving anxiety is different from person to person. Even across different clients who have the same type of issue. So I'm constantly changing and adapting approaches to fit each client and the unique structure of their issue. The work usually involves hypnotherapy, but there are also many other ways to get things solved.
These are some of the approaches I combine to help clients succeed.
Hypnotherapy is a great way to get to the core of a driving anxiety issue. It's a way of engaging the deeper/unconscious parts of the mind so clients get results they can feel, not just intellectual understandings. It's also a great state for learning and a useful tool for relaxation. These are some of the hypnotherapy approaches I use in my practice:
• Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
• Ideomotor Hypnotherapy
Through careful use of language, I can help clients connect and work with some very deep (and usually outside of consciousness) parts of themselves. These approaches can sometimes streamline the process, reduce performance anxiety ("Am I hypnotized?!") and make the process easier.
Neuro-linguistic programming offers a suite of tools that help clients gain more control over the way they're thinking about things. More control + more options usually = less driving anxiety.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is a close relative of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). It's a way of helping clients see some of the "filters" they've been seeing the world through so they can find more choices. On it's own it can be a bit dry and hard for clients to accept. Combined with hypnotherapy and NLP, it can be life-changing, particularly for anxiety clients who are trapped in the "I MUST not be anxious" loop where the harder they try to relax, the more anxious they get.
BD is based on the work of BJ Fogg, director of The Behavioral Design Lab at Stanford University. His research shows that long-term change is best accomplished when people feel good. Taking very small steps in a consistently positive way can yield powerful results, especially as driving anxiety clients are learning it's safe to get back on the highway.
Psychological Illusions/De-Hypnosis/Metacognitive therapy
Some clients create their anxiety by (innocently) hypnotizing themselves into some really bad trances. The stories and images they create can be powerful drivers for a lot of panic and anxiety.
Helping clients develop tools to "wake up" when they start do that can often make a big difference. The psychological illusion model offers tools to help clients to see through those thoughts in a way that allows for a lot more peace of mind. It's another way of helping clients wake up from some of the "thoughtmares" that have been scaring them while they drive.
Metaphors and stories can often help clients see things in much deeper way than more analytical/left-brained conversations. They're invaluable for helping clients "connect the dots" and see outside of the places where they've been stuck. Unstuck clients usually resolve their driving anxiety.
Helping clients slowly work in the direction of fear trigger can often be an important part of the process. The really important thing is being sure that before they start they have new resources (usually developed through the other approaches mentioned here). That way they can feel safe as they move into the new experiences.
Sometimes being very direct or playing the devil's advocate with a client can help them to see new options in a way that more circumspect approaches can't.
Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy and the Emotional Freedom Technique are both ways to "unstick" some thought/feeling combinations. One involves the client gently tapping some acupressure points, the other following a prompt for some simple eye movements. Both can be helpful in resolving driving anxiety issues.
Certain breathing patterns act as effective tools for resetting the sympathetic fight or flight response. They can be a shortcut to creating a sense of calm that can be extremely useful, especially for clients with driving anxiety.
Visualization work, much like the type athletes do to prime themselves for success, can sometimes be a useful tool with driving, particularly after a client has solved most of the issue.
I can’t say how long it would take for you to drive comfortably and safely on highways again. Some problems are straightforward, some turn out to be more complicated. My goal is for my clients to find a lasting solution as quickly as possible without using ‘band-aid’ approaches or cutting corners.
The vast majority of driving anxiety clients I’ve worked with have solved their problem. It’s been more work for some than others, and many have resolved other issues in the process.
There are people who don’t get good results, though. Fortunately, I’m usually able to identify them before they start, so they can find someone who’s a better fit for them.
About 50% of the work I do helping clients resolve their driving anxiety is done online. Online clients have done just as well as those who’ve been able to come in for office sessions. The results have been equally good.
It's a flat fee for client success.
- Clients get better results when they commit up front to spend the money/time it takes to solve their problem (results aren’t as good when people dabble and “try hypnosis”).
- Clients get better results when they’re not worried about how much time they’re taking.
- Clients get better results when they’re mid-process and they’re not worried about how much more it might cost them get to the point where they’re successful.
So you’d pay one flat fee to resolve your issue and drive comfortably. One price, regardless of how many sessions it takes to solve the problem completely. ‘Solved’ as both defined by and judged by you.
Fees vary depending on the situation and the severity of the anxiety. Usually they fall somewhere between $3-7k.
I guarantee all driving anxiety work with a half-back refund. If a client reaches the ten session mark and they’re making good progress, great. We continue working until the problem is completely solved. If they’ve done that much work and they don’t feel like they’ve made progress, I guarantee the work by refunding half the fee.
It’s also guaranteed if a client has a problem later on. “Relapses” are rare, but if they ever happen – whether it’s three weeks, three months or three years later – they’re 100% covered. The client is back here in the office and we resolve whatever we may have missed.
Sorry, I don't do any insurance billing. I've had a few clients who were able to get the work partially covered with HSA funds, but I don't know the details of how they arranged it. I just provided them with a receipt.
Much as I’d like to, I’m not able to help everyone with their driving anxiety. Just click the 'Let's Talk' button below to find out if you’ll be a good fit as a Boston Hypnosis client.
The academic research into driving anxiety says two important things:
- You’re not alone with your driving anxiety
- There are effective steps you can take to safely and comfortably get back on the highway.
Prevalence of driving anxiety
More severe driving anxiety is slightly less prevalent at around 16%, and between 2 and 6% of the population reports a total avoidance of driving. The most significant number, however, was 3.85% – the tiny percentage of participants in a study who sought professional help for their driving anxiety. If more people experiencing driving anxiety took the simple step of seeking help, overall rates would be far lower.
Forms of Driving Anxiety
Driving anxiety comes in many different forms. For many, driving becomes a trigger for post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident or other traumatic driving-related incident. But this is not the only way that driving anxieties can develop, and it is common to experience driving anxiety unrelated to a car accident. For some, driving is simply a phobia, just like a phobia of the dark or of spiders, without any decipherable origin. This type of driving anxiety can be just as severe, and have just as large an impact on your daily life, as driving anxiety brought about by a car accident. For still others, some other anxiety or mental health condition might indirectly bring about driving anxiety: frequent panic attacks may make driving difficult or dangerous, a fear of heights may impact your ability to drive on bridges and overpasses, or social anxiety may be triggered by driving in crowded areas. Agoraphobia, the fear of being trapped in a dangerous or embarrassing situation, can cause severe anxiety in many different driving-related contexts.
Impacts of Driving Anxiety
Regardless of its source, driving anxiety can have very real impacts on the way you live your life. Aside from making driving extremely uncomfortable (or preventing it altogether), studies have found that driving anxiety in certain groups correlates with lower levels of mental health and overall well-being. In one such study (focusing on older adults, though its implications are universal), the researchers explain:
when driving anxiety results in a reduction or cessation of driving, older adults may experience limited access to important and enjoyable daily activities such as visiting friends, helping in the community, and satisfying basic needs such as shopping or accessing healthcare, which may affect their mental health and quality of life.
Moreover, while a certain level of cautiousness makes you a safer driver, high levels of anxiety can actually make driving more dangerous – a driver consumed in his or her own anxiety will be more prone to making mistakes.
Other Options for Resolving Driving Anxiety
So what can you do to stop driving anxiety’s harmful impacts? Fortunately, there are many well-proven strategies for you to choose from. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common approach that targets the problematic thought patterns that affect anxious drivers (such as overestimating the risk of an accident), and helps participants adjust those thought patterns. Another approach is treatment through exposure, where participants use relaxation techniques while being exposed to increasingly testing driving scenarios. Recently, exposure treatments have begun to use virtual-reality driving simulations, with some success.
Hypnosis for Driving Anxiety
While not much research has been done on hypnotherapy treatment for driving anxiety, the research that exists has shown positive results. In one case study, after four treatment sessions, the researchers made this conclusion: “although she retained some anxiety, sufficient progress was established for her to make a long distance trip that she [had] been avoiding for a number of years. Reviewing progress a year later, she reported that residual anxiety had diminished and that progress had continued.” A meta-analysis of 15 studies of hypnosis for anxiety concluded that “the average participant receiving hypnosis reduced anxiety more than about 79% of control participants.” More generally, a 2019 study called hypnosis “a highly effective intervention for anxiety.”
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