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The use of hypnosis in the treatment of driving phobia

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Abstract

The client was a 37-year-old married woman with two young daughters working as a community psychiatric nurse who requested assistance with driving difficulties following a number of accidents, and maintained by avoidance behaviour. Assessment indicated that she was currently avoiding driving on any unfamiliar routes and avoiding motorway travel altogether. This avoidance was affecting her professional and personal life and she was keen to see whether the use of hypnotic procedures in conjunction with a behavioural driving programme could help her. Four sessions were undertaken and, although she retained some anxiety, sufficient progress was established for her to make a long distance trip that she has been avoiding for a number of years. Reviewing progress a year later, she reported that residual anxiety had diminished and that progress had continued. Copyright © 2005 British Society of Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis

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Chapter
One of the most consistent issues raised by people who are afraid of driving, regardless of the origin or severity of their fear, has been the stigma associated with this relatively common problem. They describe feeling embarrassed about their difficulty with driving, which prevents them from talking to friends and family about it. These kinds of experiences go some way to explain why people with driving fear and phobia seek help. This chapter provides a comprehensive review of terminologies used, diagnostic requirements and controversies, and clinical features that are associated with fear of driving as a consequence of motor vehicle collision (MVC) involvement. Theoretical models explain the acquisition of driving and travel-related fear and avoidance. Procedures involved in the comprehensive assessment of factors that contribute to an individual's experience of driving and travel-related fear and avoidance are discussed, both generally and in the MVC context. A review of treatment is provided along with discussions of MVC-related conditions that have the potential to impact driving behavior post-MVC.
Chapter
It is estimated that up to 15 % of the population have symptoms of driving phobia. Strong driving related fear affects 1 % of the population, mostly women. From 2012 until 2015 we had 40 clients with driving phobia. For most of them driving related fear manifested as a part of a more complex self-esteem problem, not as an isolated issue. We used various methods concerning the whole contexts of client’s life and the system of client’s relationships. 12 out of the 17 participants of group program and 20 out of the 23 participants of the individual programs experienced a significant decrease of the driving related fear symptoms and started to drive regularly. Based on our experience—driving related fear is rarely an isolated symptom, so it has to be treated as a part of a more complex problem. The complex approach significantly contributes to the efficacy of the therapy.
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Though often denigrated as fakery or wishful thinking, hypnosis has been shown to be a real phenomenon with a variety of therapeutic uses - especially in controlling pain.
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An AB case design was used to examine the efficacy of virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) in treating driving phobia. After a one week baseline, the patient received three treatment sessions over a ten day period. Treatment included practice of four VR driving scenarios. Peak anxiety decreased within and across sessions. Ratings of anxiety and avoidance declined from pre-treatment and post-treatment, with gains maintained at seven month followup. Phobia-related interference in daily functioning similarly decreased. The results suggest that it would be useful to further evaluate the efficacy of VRET for driving phobia in controlled clinical trials.
Hypnotherapy: A Practical Handbook. London: Free Association Books The truth and the hype of hypnosis
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