Driving Fears & Phobias    

Mike Weatherstone
SAC (Dip)  in CBT, CThA, Reg. SFT

Mike is an insured and qualified Cognitive Behavioural Therapist.

Combined with his ex-police driving background, vast driving experience of over 40 + years of most types of vehicles, including wide-load HGVs, Mike is uniquely qualified to assist with any fears and phobias you may have. He has achieved some remarkable successes in this area, has been a guest speaker on the subject on BBC Radio and has recently been consulted by production companies for both ITV and Channel 4 TV.  His book on curing driving phobia by yourself is available for instant download here http://www.drivexcel.co.uk/publications-2/publications/

What is driving related phobia?

Many drivers find they can develop a fear of driving in general or a particular aspect of it, often for no discernable reason. For example, a fear of driving on motorways or dual-carriageways, over bridges or through tunnels. Others will go to great lengths to avoid a right turn, or driving at night. These may seem irrational fears, but are all too real to the sufferer.

Effectively the body goes into “full threat mode” and reacts in just the same way as if faced with a real danger, but where there really is no significant risk.  The full range of “fight or flight” reactions may be experienced, such as nausea, shaking, sweating, rapid breathing and very severe anxiety.  These are often referred to as a panic attack.

Understandably, the temptation to go to great lengths to entirely avoid the experience develops, and this “avoidance behaviour” is what leads to the phobia.

What are the causes?

Driving-related fear is usually caused by one of the following:

A) Trauma – for example, a bad accident or near miss, which completely shatters a driver’s confidence.

B)  A defect in driving technique, causing actual or perceived danger and therefore fear

C)  Other psychological issues which may manifest themselves as a fear of something unrelated

A & B are generally fairly straightforward to address.  Both can be dramatically altered by improved driving technique – in the case of A by eliminating whatever caused the accident if it was due to the client’s own error, or developing defensive driving techniques and B, by again correcting technique.  All of these boost confidence and that in itself can help to eliminate fear.

C is different entirely, the causes of which can be many and varied.  It may be that the root cause is never discovered and there is little profit to be gained by endlessly probing for it.  Although well worth some exploratory research into possible causes, it is generally far more effective to move on to dealing with the problem – the future being far more important than the past.  This is where CBT combined with a knowledge of defensive driving techniques can really help to boost confidence – and confidence is king in this context.

What is CBT?

CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is the combination of cognitive (the way we think) and behavioural (what we do) therapies. It is designed to achieve two main objectives – to change the way we perceive things to be more positive, and to alter behaviour to create a more beneficial outcome.  As driving and indeed many other phobias are all to do with how we perceive things, CBT can be very powerful and effective in changing our thoughts.  In particular, CBT aims to change the way clients perceive the “phobic trigger” to view it differently, and therefore no longer be afraid.

CBT, can be very helpful indeed in addressing phobia.  In a consulting room environment it is probably effective in around 30% of cases, but is generally much higher when carried out whilst actually driving.

The reason for this is that when you visit a therapist, he will never actually witness your driving and will be unable to identify, still less address, any problems which may be at the very root of the phobia.  This is vitally important in the treatment of driving related phobia – as you may by now be recognising –  as you may not have a phobia at all.  Using a practical “On-the-Road” approach, results are usually much more effective – frequently dramatically so – and can often be achieved in just one session.

CBT is  widely recognised by the NHS in general, and GPs in particular, as one of the key therapies able to help with psychological difficulties – the reason being that results can be easily documented and measured.

CBT is designed to change the client’s perception or outlook.  It can help with anger and stress management, relationship problems, obsessive compulsive disorders, and of course fears and phobias.  It can be particularly effective in addressing driving-related phobia as it can help restore perception of danger to more normal levels.

How will it help me?

CBT will help to re-structure (or re-program – a horrible term but appropriate in this context) your thinking by a combination of techniques, all designed to carefully change the way you see things. This is done by very gradually, step-by-step helping you to face and overcome your fear.  You will NOT be pushed, bullied or intimidated at any time, rather encouraged to WANT to go a little further, repeating your achievements until, when thoroughly comfortable with each stage, we move on to the next – baby steps if you like.

It should be said that phobias can be the manifestation of a medical condition for which a doctor or other specialist is, or should be, supervising, and which it may be inappropriate for Drivexcel to become involved in. We would always discuss any potential conflict with you before becoming actively involved.

How long will it take?

Often remarkable progress is achieved with just one session and this is what we seek to achieve.  We are very conscious that we should not replace your fear with a dependence on us – in other words, you can drive perfectly well, but only with us with you.  Clearly that is not a practical option and for that reason, in the nicest possible way, the less we see of you, the better!

A full day “on-the-road” equips you with everything you need to overcome the problem yourself and is sufficient for many sufferers.   More information about the course and cost can be found here

Mike has published a very useful and informative self-help book on driving-related phobia and how to cure it  which sells steadily all over the world and this can be found here .  Some people find it’s all they need but if you do decide to take a course after buying the book then the cost is deducted from the course fee.

At Drivexcel we can’t guarantee to eliminate the condition, although we often can, but we do promise to treat the sufferer with understanding and complete confidentiality.

Tel: (01508) 488181   Email: info@drivexcel.co.uk
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