How Can Therapy Help Nervous Student Drivers?

Across many countries, driving is a symbol of freedom and status. It is a skill coveted by many—male and female, young and old. Some even get their student licenses as soon as the law allows them. But more than the prestige, driving offers practicality. It helps you get to your destination faster, avoid traffic, and provide an alternative to public transport. Alongside these, there is also a myriad of benefits to being able to drive a car. 

While most people are excited to get behind the wheel, other student drivers feel nervous. Although this feeling is normal, it can sometimes develop into irrational fear. A driving phobia is characterized by extraordinary distress even at the mere prospect of driving. If you are a student driver, remember that initial fear is okay. It’s normal to feel nervous when driving since you become responsible for your safety, as well as others on the road. 


However, keep in mind that there is always a way to overcome your fright. If your apprehension does not fade over time, don’t panic. Your driving instructors may not be able to help you with your phobia, but that’s alright. They are not experts in this field after all. In this case, you will need to approach a therapist. As licensed mental health professionals, they have the expertise to guide you through your fears. Through therapy, you can understand your doubts about driving. More importantly, your therapist will recommend a specific course of treatment that is tailor-fit to your needs. 

Read on to learn more about how therapy can help nervous student drivers.

Find The Root Cause Of Your Fear

You cannot fully grasp your fear without knowing its root cause. You also cannot cope with your worries if you don’t know the real reason. So, one of the first things you will do with your therapists is talk about your fears. Take the time to discuss your agitation with them. They may ask you to recall when the phobia started to bud and when it began to worsen. Your therapist will also likely ask you to list the people, objects, or places that trigger your fear.

Ask yourself why you are afraid to get on the driver’s seat. There are many reasons why a person feels nervous about driving. A few examples of these fears may include:

      • Previous Negative Experiences

Perhaps, you were involved in a previous automobile accident. The memories from that experience may leave you with trauma. However, negative encounters are not limited to road accidents. It may be traveling through a bad storm or getting lost along the way. You may also be a victim of road rage. Recall all negative memories that you associate with driving, and discuss them with your therapist.

      • Driving Alone

Another cause of fear may be dreading being alone in the car due to several factors. One may be because you are a terrible navigator. If so, the fear can intensify if you are asked to drive through an unfamiliar city. You may also be apprehensive about traversing long distances alone or feel trapped when you are alone in your car. 

      • Losing Control

Many individuals cite the fear of losing control as one of their apprehensions. Driving can be intimidating not just because you’re in charge of the wheel. There are fellow drivers, pedestrians, animals, and other road users around you. While you can have control of yourself, you cannot always control your surroundings. It can be more terrifying if you are on a busy street. Because there are many possible distractions around you, it can rattle your focus.

After identifying the root cause of your fear, ask yourself why you need to overcome it. Is it because you crave personal autonomy? Or perhaps, you want to be the designated driver when you’re out with friends? Maybe your parents are getting old, and you want to take control of the family car. Whatever your intention is, clearly define it. Then use it as motivation to overcome your fear. When you feel any discomposure, look back on the reason why you want to drive.


Find Calming Techniques

Now that you’ve established what’s causing your fear, it’s time to find coping mechanisms. Your therapist can show you some techniques to quell your anxieties when it’s time to get behind the wheel. They may recommend many methods, including breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, or even playing a certain playlist of calming music. It can also be a combination of different tactics. Try all of their suggestions, then stick to what works best for you.

But before deciding on a course of treatment, you and your therapist will usually discuss your goals. These include both short-term and long-term targets. When setting up your objectives, remember to make them realistic. Don’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself. Instead, always be kind to yourself. Remember that therapy is not a one-time treatment that can make your phobia disappear overnight. As long as you’re taking the steps, you will get closer to your goal no matter how slowly.

Get On Track

Many psychiatrists attest to the positive effect of exposure therapy. This method encourages drivers to be more comfortable and confident with driving. The goal of this therapy is to confront your fears. Your exposure to driving will be gradual and involve the presence of your therapist or another mental health professional. Through exposure therapy, you will progressively adjust to the sensations of driving. Over time, you will become calmer and more in control of the steering wheel.


The Bottom Line

As a student driver, feeling nervous about driving can hinder your progress. It can affect your scores when taking the exam for a license. If you fail to pass the test, it can also lower your self-esteem. But despite the setbacks, it is possible to overcome your fear and be a confident and responsible driver. 

Speaking with a mental health professional can help provide clarity on your emotions. Through therapy and focused effort, you will surely attain your driver’s license in time.

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