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Using hypnotherapy (hypnosis) to help you pass your driving test

Hypnotherapy is a common therapy used to put you in a relaxed state and make you more open to suggestions. Because your conscious thoughts are controlled by your subconscious thoughts, any anxiety or worry that you might feel driving can be reduced or eliminated by feeding your subconscious the right messages. While a technique like affirmations uses brute force to convince your subconscious mind through repetition, hypnosis slips in the back way by putting you in a state where suggestions made to you can sink into your subconscious more easily.

It’s important to remember that when you are hypnotised you remain in control – this isn’t like some stage hypnosis trick. Hypnosis can be used by anyone, but not everyone will be able to be hypnotised easily.

We asked experienced hypnotherapist Adrian Tannock of lastingchange.co.uk to answer a few questions.

Why would a person choose hypnotherapy to help with their theory driving test?

Hypnotherapy is an excellent tool for enhancing performance under difficult circumstances. Through the power of suggestion, clients can experience calmer, more composed states even under exam conditions. The aim is to create a sense of confidence in the moment. This could involve revivifying previous examples of composed performance under pressure, enhancing their recall of questions, and weakening any negative, limiting beliefs that stand in their way.

Self-hypnosis also plays a part here. Clients can be taught self-hypnosis in a matter of minutes. This excellent tool has been demonstrated to reduce stress and anxiety in the moment, as well as fostering confidence and optimism. The client can then relax themselves into a state of hypnosis before their theory test, enabling a calmer, more focused approach.

The ability of hypnosis to improve a person’s ability to perform under exam circumstances (cognitively, emotionally, physiologically), when combined with the usefulness of self-hypnosis (to help before the test itself), can bring about a real improvement in anybody’s ability to pass their theory driving test.

Why would a person choose hypnotherapy to help with their practical driving test?

Hypnosis can be viewed as creating an accelerated state of learning. When in this state of mind, we can achieve many marvellous things. Mental rehearsal, a tool frequently used by athletes, is particularly effective when experiencing hypnosis. The act of visualising maneouvers (read our article on visualisation here), i.e. mentally rehearsing them, speeds up the learning process and improves our ability to remain calm, composed and co-ordinated as a result.

As mentioned earlier, post-hypnotic suggestion is an excellent tool for fostering anxiety-free states; replacing fear with an alert confidence. In some cases, hypnotic regression can prove useful. Where a person has failed a driving test previously, and now feels anxious as a result, they can be regressed back to that test to ‘reframe’ it, resulting in a new perspective – and a freedom from fear and anxiety.

What should a person expect when they come in for a hypnotherapy session?

Many hypnotherapists offer an initial consultation, either in person or over the phone, where you can see whether hypnotherapy – and the hypnotherapist – is right for you. Where possible, aim to work with somebody who offers this service.

If you decide to go ahead, a normal session will involve building a case history to begin. Your hypnotherapist will ask questions to determine where the problems lie. You may be asked about your state of mind when driving or taking exams, about previous difficulties or anxieties in other areas, and so forth. This will give the hypnotherapist the information he or she needs to target the right areas.

From there, you’ll be guided into the gentle state of relaxed, inner absorption known as hypnosis. Your hypnotherapist will explain certain things to you, offering suggestions or describing scenes to mentally visualise, before bringing you around at the end. The experience of is like profound daydreaming; it is relaxing, enjoyable, and you remain in control throughout.What would be a typical number of sessions that people would have, and how would they monitor progress?

Generally, 2 to 5 sessions will be required depending on how nervous you are, what difficulties you may have had with previous tests, etc. Progress is best monitored by asking your instructor to put you through a mock test. How calm and confident do you feel?

What questions should you ask your hypnotherapist to ensure they’re the right fit for you?

Choosing a hypnotherapist is very similar to choosing a driving instructor (read our guide to choosing a driving instructor here) – you have to gel together. Certainly ask the logical questions: have you worked with driving anxieties in the past, what is your success rate, how many sessions. But your main criteria should be finding somebody with whom you build an easy rapport.

Are there any other techniques/methods/treatments that you would recommend that augment hypnotherapy and improve its results?

Hypnotherapy is complimented very well by the likes of yoga, meditation, self-hypnosis and the like. Anything which aides relaxation, focus, and self-control will enhance your hypnotherapy sessions. Affirmations are particularly good (read our guide on using affirmations to help you pass your test here), especially if used in conjunction with self-hypnosis.

Can you give me an example of a person who has benefited from your hypnotherapy in relation to taking the test

Here’s a recent case study (name / age changed to protect anonymity).

I recently worked with John, 35, an architect from Manchester who had taken his test four times. He was becoming progressively nervous as he felt increasingly fearful of the pain of failing his test. Each time this fear grew worse as his disappointment grew more bitter.

To combat this, we used visualisation techniques to reinforce the excellent instruction he’d received in preparation for his next test; we used direct suggestion and metaphor to remind him –on an emotional level– that his upcoming test is a unique experience, his previous experiences needn’t form a generalised template; and we did some work to foster a sense of calm, composed sense of optimism, so he could genuinely understand “this is my moment – I’m well prepared, relaxed, and in control. I can succeed!”

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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