CBT for driving anxiety won’t work and often leaves you feeling worse than when you started.
Let me show you why CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) fails to help with driving anxiety and what you need to do to really overcome a fear of driving.
The most important points are written in bold.
I would like to point out that CBT is not all bad, I just find it doesn’t work with driving anxiety. See the section on is CBT good for anything? for more details.
CBT for driving anxiety – why it fails
CBT fails to fix a fear of driving for two main reasons:
- It focuses on your conscious mind, which isn’t where the problem is.
- It focuses on driving, which has nothing to do with driving anxiety.
You can already see what the problem is:
CBT works in the wrong place on the wrong thing.
Using CBT to fix a fear of driving is like trying to put out a fire by aiming water in the opposite direction. Play the video below to see that actually happening!
The man on this fire engine is like a CBT practitioner aiming in the wrong direction.
This is why people spend months, sometimes years, taking CBT and make no progress at all.
You often won’t fix problems with CBT because it’s meant as a coping strategy. It teaches you how to put up with problems and deal with them the best you can.
CBT has been said to stand for Coping and Bodging Techniques because it’s like putting a plaster over a problem and not really fixing it.
Let’s look at those two main reasons above in more detail to discover why it fails.
Driving anxiety is an unconscious problem
If you have a fear of driving then you’ve probably experienced how annoying it is when people tell you the following things:
- Just push through and ignore it. You’ll be fine.
- Statistics show you’re safer on fast roads.
- Driving is safe because millions of people do it every day.
- You won’t fall off the bridge, you’ll be fine.
All of those things are logical and that’s why they fail. Your problem lives in your unconscious mind which works with emotions and doesn’t understand logic.
The video below explains more about the difference between how the conscious and unconscious mind work.
Learn how your subconscious mind thinks
Why CBT is so popular even though it doesn’t work
It’s easy to get CBT approved by bodies, governments and scientists because they love seeing statistics and logic that show things work.
That logic is the very thing that will stop you from getting a result because your problem isn’t logical!
Imagine someone you love. Now try and describe why you love them. It’s impossible! They may be attractive or whatever but can you really explain why you love them? No, because love is an emotion, just like your driving anxiety is.
Whereas a hypnotherapist would work with your feelings and emotions, a CBT practitioner would sit there ticking boxes to try and explain them logically.
Now let’s look at how this logical approach blocks you from overcoming a fear of driving.
Driving anxiety has nothing to do with driving
CBT practitioners often make the mistake of fixing the symptom, not the real problem.
Driving anxiety is a symptom. It’s how another problem in your life is showing itself.
Imagine that you have flu. You could fix the symptom of sneezing by taping your mouth shut but is that going to get rid of the flu? Of course not! To do that you need to target the real problem – the virus that causes flu.
Driving instructors, CBT practitioners and all kinds of “experts” make the classic mistake of focusing on symptoms. It’s quite concerning that people working as therapists don’t understand this most basic principle of change work; the problem is never the problem!
This case study shows how driving anxiety has nothing to do with driving.
Why driving statistics won’t help
CBT practitioners often get frustrated with you when you say you can’t drive because they don’t understand why not.
To fix this, they’ll bombard you with more and more logical thoughts and statistics that won’t do anything because they have nothing to do with the problem.
They often get you to go and stand by a road to make you feel better about it. They’ll tell you how if driving was that dangerous then nobody would do it. They mean well but they just don’t know what they’re doing.
The difference between me and your typical therapist is that I have spent over 20 years of my life as a driving instructor. I have been right there in the car seeing panic attacks happen so I understand it in a way other therapists don’t.
I’ve been a professional therapist for years too and I’m not just trained to a basic level like most. I don’t tell people to imagine unicorns and waterfalls as I whisper how easy driving is. That stuff is all nonsense.
Combining my driving instructor and advanced therapy skills together makes me the go-to person for driving anxiety.
What I understand that others don’t is this:
You can’t fix an unconscious problem with a conscious solution.
What causes driving anxiety?
A fear of driving is caused by a trapped emotion from your past which could be caused by anything. I’ve known the cause of driving anxiety to be a lost toy, work stress, relationship issues and many other things.
The one thing I’ve never known driving anxiety to be caused by is driving.
That old emotion is being triggered (replayed) when you drive. At one point in your life that feeling served a purpose. It protected you from something or helped you in some way.
The problem is that your mind has no concept of time. The event that’s causing all this stress might have happened when you were 5 years old but your mind doesn’t know that years have passed and it’s still faithfully carrying out its duty of keeping you safe.
To overcome a fear of driving you must find that emotion and release it.
The great thing about the way I do this is that it all happens automatically and you don’t have to actually “do” anything in a session. Your mind does it for you!
Here’s one way that you certainly won’t do it though…
CBT, exposure therapy and fear ladders
One of CBT’s favourite tricks to overcome driving anxiety is exposure therapy, otherwise known as a fear ladder.
The idea is that you gradually build up bit by bit, driving a little further each time so that you gradually get back to normal, climbing the ladder of fear so to speak.
There is just one problem with this:
Exposure therapy doesn’t work for driving anxiety because it’s dangerous.
Having taught over 1,000 people to drive as one of the UK’s top driving instructors for over 20 years, I have to cringe when I hear doctors and all kinds of therapists telling people to go out driving no matter how anxious they feel. Just ignore the panic, ignore the feeling, push through and keep going! You’ll be fine! Probably. I hope.
If ever they say this, ask them to come out in the car with you and see what e̶x̶c̶u̶s̶e̶s̶ reasons they come out with.
Those people just don’t understand what driving anxiety is. They think you just feel a bit annoyed by traffic or that you just get a bit nervous. They don’t understand the sheer panic and overwhelming feelings you’re experiencing. They’re just hoping the problem will go because they don’t know what to do.
Forcing yourself into driving will only make it worse as the thing in your mind causing your anxiety redoubles its efforts to stop you from driving.
Exposure therapy for driving anxiety is stupidly dangerous
Exposure therapy can work for some things like a fear of spiders. Having a non-deadly spider walk over your hand can get you more used to it but even that is a horrific experience.
Yes, you do have to go out driving at some point but the difference with my therapy is that you’ll have worked on the problem from the safety of home first. You’re not just brutally forcing yourself into swerving all over the road and causing mayhem to everyone around you because someone told you that would fix your fear of driving.
We already know that driving anxiety has nothing to do with driving so just driving a bit more each time is not going to fix anything.
See my page on why exposure therapy fails for more info.
How to overcome a fear of driving properly
The only way to truly fix your driving anxiety is to access your unconscious mind and make the change there. This is done by using hypnosis.
Now, before you go thinking of stage shows using hypnosis where people are made to bark like dogs and forget their name, that’s not what I’m talking about. What I mean is hypnotherapy which uses hypnosis more subtly for the purpose of healing, not entertainment.
There is such a thing as CBH (Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy) which is like fixing everything wrong with CBT and tying a rocket to it to make it 100 times faster.
Does CBT work for driving anxiety?
When it does work it’s because you’ve accidentally used hypnosis by mistake.
It’s funny when I watch CBT sessions and the CBT practitioner has no idea that their client is in hypnosis. This is because many people falsely believe the following:
- You must have your eyes closed to be in hypnosis
- You have to be in a quiet room with soft music playing
- It only happens if you mean to use it and have studied it
All of those things are nonsense.
What is hypnosis then?
Hypnosis is simply a state of focus. It isn’t magic, it isn’t evil. You don’t need to swing a pocket watch in front of someone for it to work.
Hypnosis happens to us all, many times each day. Driving somewhere and not being able to remember anything about your journey, getting so lost in a movie that you lose track of time, or getting sad when you listen to a song that reminds you of something are all common examples of hypnosis.
When people have success fixing driving anxiety with CBT it’s because they’ve used hypnosis without knowing it!
You can watch an example of me showing you how hypnotherapy works in this video. It might look like CBT but look at how much is going on in the background that would fly over the head of a CBT worker.
Is CBT good for anything?
CBT has its uses and it can help with a variety of issues but driving anxiety isn’t one of them.
In the same way that I wouldn’t recommend CBT alone for driving anxiety, I wouldn’t recommend hypnotherapy alone for some other things such as dealing with alcoholism.
I’ve had several clients that were CBT practitioners and I have nothing against anyone using CBT. I just find that it doesn’t help with driving issues.
There are people that have had huge results with CBT and changed their lives.
Successful therapy is about choosing the right approach for you and your problem.
Contact me to overcome driving anxiety
You can have your driving anxiety gone in as little as one hour, depending on the cause, and get back to living your life the way you want to.
Whether you want a new job, to take your family out, to explore the world more or just to get your day-to-day life back, you can do it!
If you want to work with me online from anywhere in the world then contact me today.
If you want to learn more first then see my page on how to overcome driving anxiety.