Saturday, May 22, 2010

“I Have a Terrible Fear of Driving, and It Just Came Out of Nowhere”

Archive Category: Fear | Latest | Trauma | Troubling Memories | May 22, 2010 | Lynne Shaner | No Comments

by Lynne Shaner
Washington, D.C. USA

“I have a terrible fear of driving,” my client told me. “And it just came out of nowhere.” So—a mystery. This woman had been driving with no problems all of her life, and suddenly, a few years ago, she was overwhelmed with fear and had to stop driving completely. She didn’t know what to do, and hoped EFT could help.

On her intake form, she noted that she had had a fall right around the time she stopped driving. It had been a serious fall, and she had damaged one leg significantly, and had to go to the hospital. When she came for her session, we talked first about the phobia, and I asked what was going on around the time of her stopping driving. “The fall!” she said, referring to the accident. “I had never put the two together until I filled out the form, but after that fall I never drove again.” Could they be linked, even though the fall had nothing to do with driving? Absolutely. Why? Because she sensed a connection. It was a traumatic fall, and worth treating on that basis alone, but what was especially critical in solving the mystery of the phobia was that we followed the thread of her intuitive sense. It rang true with me, too, but the most important concern was that she was very clear that these two situations were linked.

So—first we tapped on the accident, treating it as a PTS (post-traumatic stress) incident. We labeled it something like “the fall,” and assessed her SUDS, or intensity level (a 9), and I asked about where she felt it in her body and what her emotions were. One of the primary emotions was powerlessness, a feeling that was strongly linked to her driving phobia.

We took the event from a 9 to a zero, first sneaking up on it with the movie technique, then, when she reported a significant drop in anxiety, I guided her into a continual tapping technique that I routinely use once the intensity level is down to about a 2 or a 3. (It is very simple—the client just tells the story while we tap continuously around the points. Each time the story is related, we check the SUDS level and make sure it goes down to a zero).

After that, we of course didn’t have a car waiting for us to see whether she could drive, so I asked her to imagine driving. She said it felt pretty good, but she wasn’t completely sure. So we then used a straightforward approach, tapping on “my fear of driving that might remain” “my remaining nervousness,” etc. We then shifted to the positive, once any traces of fear were gone, and opened up the ideas of feeling great in her car, loving driving, enjoying the freedom of being back in her car, feeling calm and confident.

The next week, she came back and said that she had no problems at all—she was driving just as if nothing had ever happened. By both treating the core traumatic event and following the client’s lead and knowledge about herself, the driving phobia gently dissolved, and has not returned. I am so grateful to be doing this work!

Lynne Shaner

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