Amaxophobia – Fear of Driving
For over 13 years I just couldn’t drive. It’s not that I didn’t know how – I passed my test first time and had a fabulous instructor. But due to a number of near misses I’ve encountered in my life, left me with having panic attacks and amaxophobia. I once tried hypnotherapy but it turned out to be the old-fashioned type. The Freudian idea that all trauma stems from childhood. Consequently, it didn’t work until I was being trained as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist.
What I found myself doing was recalling the events over and over again vividly. Now I know this really does not help but embeds the fear even deeper. I had to start to think positively about driving, telling myself I needed that independence. I did not want to rely on anybody else. Then I used the Fast Phobia techniques and brought a bit of CBT in to help build my confidence gradually
Job done! – I don’t have any negative episodes now. If I have to go somewhere new I make sure I have a map, a sat nav and often map it out using Google Earth first. I prepare well and prepare positively.
For those who come to see me about driving problems, and not just exams, you would expect to see me for around 5 sessions. Again it does very much depend on how much general stress and anxiety you are experiencing at the time.
If a person is struggling with other anxiety issues then these need to be addressed first.
Case Study 1
Maggie came to see me about amaxophobia as she found it impossible to visit the boat she and her husband had moored in Southampton. Driving locally didn’t seem much of a problem, though she just didn’t like doing it, a motorway journey was out of the question. It also transpired that although she worked part-time she couldn’t get motivated to do anything. For a number of years, she had been a carer for her mother and when she died Maggie had the time to pursue the hobbies she’d set aside for such an event. But she wasn’t doing them.
Frustrated she asked if I could help. We also explored her grief over her mother. She had undergone counselling, but the guilt was still there. After about 5 or 6 sessions this improved greatly, she was going further afield and she, at last, felt free from the grief. By the 10th sessions, she had driven down to Southampton, take their boat across to the Isle of Wight and come back again without thinking about it. Bounding with enthusiasm she then decided to reduce the hours she worked and focus on activities she wanted to do.
All in all, it was a complete success and was able to achieve so much more than before.
Case Study 2
When living down in Somerset, quite a regular problem appeared to involve driving on the M5 from Portishead to Clevedon on the split level section. This part of the motorway allows wonderful views over the Gordano valley to the sea. However, it really upsets some and they find they just can’t use it. The Avonmouth Bridge was another obstacle. Quite a few went out of their way of driving through Bristol to get to Cribbs Causeway instead of using the motorway. I have helped quite a number of individuals to overcome this problem and get them back on the road to success and a lot fewer diversions.
Case Study 3
This one is slightly different and shows the power of the mind. After Marian came to see me with a problem that only happened at a certain time and place we eventually got to the bottom of it. She realised that driving along that stretch of road related to extreme anxiety about her husband finding out about a previous relationship. This had stopped before she met him. However, she’d stayed in touch with this chap. He was the best friend of her husband and it was when picking her husband up from this friends house she would literally freeze and couldn’t drive.
She decided after realising this she had to tell him and once that happened she was able to drive again. When she first came to see me she had no idea this was the problem, but it gradually dawned on her as the weeks passed as being the only thing she could think of. Her subconscious wasn’t giving her any clues, but the extremely relaxed state during hypnosis helped her make the connection.
Case Study 4
Natalie was travelling on the M3 on her way to a riding event. As she approached the junction there were roadworks and cones narrowing the road. She was in the inside lane when a lorry driving in the middle lane failed to see her in his mirrors and pulled over, clipping her car and spinning her across the motorway and over the central reservation. Luckily for her, the airbags softened the blow. She was physically unharmed. However, it left her with psychological issues around driving on motorways including amaxophobia.
Most people she spoke to afterwards said that time would allow her to get over it, but instead, it made things worse. She even decided to move out of London because it was just too much for her. After doing a bit of research and finding that I had been mentioned in the Daily Telegraph article and book on driving fear, she contacted me. Despite her living in London, she wanted to see me. We organised her to see me for the initial consultation at Oxford, as the clinic is so close to the station. From then on we worked via Skype, and only after 2 sessions she had made amazing advancements. In all, we had 4 sessions over Skype and she wrote a wonderful email to me later:
” Hi Penny, I am so happy with the outcome from my hypnotherapy sessions. I feel like a new person who is less anxious, stressed and is much more relaxed and confident. I was doubtful if this would work initially. But I decided it was worth trying and I have been so surprised by the results – this really worked! Following a car accident, I was so anxious about driving I was actually getting pains in my chest. I was also starting to dread getting behind the wheel days, even weeks before I had to drive somewhere. This had been going on for some time and it was affecting my life.
Following my hypnotherapy sessions I can now drive without feeling anxiety or stressed and the pains have gone. My whole outlook on driving has changed. It has given me back my independence and freedom to plan and go on trips and journeys. I also feel much more positive generally and so it has improved my quality of life. I am also sleeping much better at night. This outcome has far exceeded my expectations. Thank you so much Penny!”