Driving Test nerves

Daily Telegraph 26th October 2009

Hypnotism can help you pass the driving test

After failing her driving test four times, our intrepid reporter sought help from a hypnotherapist to help her get mobile.

“I’ve failed my driving test four times, but I am a good driver. I know I am.  At first, cars and I didn’t really get on, even though as a teenager keen to tick off each rite of passage as soon as it was legal (if not sooner), I signed up for driving lessons at the earliest opportunity.  Nerves intervened, however, and I vomited more before the lessons than if I’d had a heavy night on rum and Coke. Then exams gave me an excuse to avoid continuing the lessons, before student poverty and good bus services provided several more. Then I moved to an area untouched by public transport and the excuses ran out.

On the recommendation of a friend I signed up with an independent instructor.  When, during an early lesson, I crashed into a traffic island near a pub, she didn’t get upset, even though I’d wrecked two tyres and we had to wait three hours to be towed while being mocked by drunks.  She allowed me back in her car and after months without so much as a scratched hubcap, she announced that I was ready for my test. I sailed through the theory section but the old psychological horrors returned when it came to the practical test. I postponed it four times and when I finally faced it I was sleep-deprived, trembling and tanked up on beta blockers and Rescue Remedy.  The examiner was sympathetic and I was relieved when he began by asking for my best manoeuvre – bay parking. But it became a two-step dance of forward and reverse. I failed before I’d even left the test centre.  “You just need to relax!” said Beryl. “You’re a good driver.”

It was time to try again.

“I’m a bit nervous,” I told my second examiner. Stony faced, he ignored me and my anxiety doubled. I was marked down for 20 minor faults and failed again.  Clearly more practice was needed, so I spent every weekend driving my boyfriend’s car. It had a new satnav device which I grew to love until it led me onto the M25, which meant I risked three points on my licence, because learners aren’t allowed on motorways. Disqualification was a test-sabotage technique too far, even for me.  On my next test I overcompensated for my usual panic by speeding. The roadside LED speed sign ahead flashed ’37mph’, spectacularly proclaiming my failure. I didn’t get any points but I couldn’t have been in a worse state emotionally.

My fourth attempt was another disaster as I drove out of the test centre when it wasn’t clear to join the major road. The examiner who’d previously witnessed my girl-racer act now had to deal with a childish tantrum as I got out, slammed the door and shouted, “Leave me alone!”  Something had to be done, and after hearing about the reputed 90 per cent success rate of hypnotherapy, I made an appointment to see a Hypnotherapist. After assuring me that I wasn’t going to dance like a chicken – “trances” are actually states of deep relaxation in which subjects retain their own will – Tim set to work, guiding my breathing and using subliminal suggestions to combat my fears. My mind cleared and, as I repeated his words, success seemed possible.  I left, eager to practise the breathing exercises and “affirmations” and noticed that, for once, I was looking people in the eye. Beryl remarked on an increased confidence in my driving.

A fortnight later on the day before my test I had a second hypnotherapy session, which concentrated on visualising a positive result. The next morning I was met by the long-suffering examiner I’d had twice before. He probably wanted to flee more than I did. But this time I calmly dismissed my fears and focused only on the road ahead.  About 40 minutes later we arrived back at the test centre where – to my unalloyed joy – the visualisation in my hypnotherapy sessions became reality, and I passed.

I have helped many over the years to combat nerves and PASS, why not you?