Article written 2003 for the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis Magazine (updated April 2013)
I’m Linda Alexander, Clinical Hypnotherapist in Glasgow and I have been here practising hypnotherapy for 18 years now.
My first introduction to hypnotherapy was many years ago when I sat my first driving test. I had been driving on a provisional licence since the age of 17, (you could do that then), so I had years of experience and was a competent driver.
It wasn’t until about the age of 30 I decided to get my licence and I took several lessons from a professional instructor.
There came the point when he suggested I was ready for the test, a date was arranged and he picked me up on the day of the test and away we went to the test area, did the hour’s practise as per normal, no problem and then along came the examiner.
As soon as the examiner got into the car I freaked. He was a big sombre man in a long black overcoat a bit like the way some undertakers dress. Well, I lost it – my first panic attack. Shaking, trembling, legs twitching, tunnel vision – a horrible experience. Needless to say I failed, and I felt that I never wanted to go through that experience again. I didn’t care if I never drove a car again. Nobody was going to make me do that again.
However, my saving grace came in the form of my lecturer in psychology at Glasgow University. I recounted my scary experience to him and after he had explained a bit about how a female in an enclosed space (the car) can sometimes interpret a strange man (the examiner) coming into that space as a threat, he added, “I am only going to say one word to you and that is, HYPNOSIS”.
What I did not feel able to share with the lecturer at that point, as we were in a room full of people, was that he had absolutely hit the mark. A number of years earlier when I was sixteen I had been attacked in a lift in my office building by a stranger who had followed me from the street.
So the situation of being in the confined space in the car and this strange man entering had triggered the memory of the attack.
I continued with my studies and the lecturer never referred to the incident again but he had, “planted the seed”. Of course I did not know it then, but he had sent my unconscious mind off on a mission.
Months later I started to think about getting back into driving and booked by lesson. As the day approached and the time drew nearer I began to get more and more anxious. I was perspiring and hyperventilating, not as bad as during the test, but very uncomfortable.
This had never happened during an ordinary lesson before. The next lesson was pretty much the same.
So later on that day I got out the Yellow Pages and began my search for a hypnotherapist. There were not many around then and I was disappointed that there were no female hypnotherapists in the book..
I had to settled on a male therapist who had a qualification in psychology as well as hypnosis, made the call and wondered what I was letting myself in for.
On the evening of my appointment I made my way to his place not far from Glasgow’s west end and found to my concern that the address was a council house. I knocked the door and woman answered and let me in. I was relieved that she was there. She had her slippers on so I took that as a sign that this was his wife. The man ushered me upstairs into a spare bedroom which was dimly lit by a red light. There was a recliner chair which he asked me to sit on after he had done the consultation and proceeded to adjust the chair into a lying back position.
I was thinking “I don’t like this”. On that occasion, relaxing did not come easy to me. I did not feel relaxed and indeed by the end of the session I felt it was a waste of time and money and left feeling really stupid for putting myself in that situation.
A week later I had my next driving lesson booked for the Saturday afternoon at 1pm. I watched the clock and as it neared mid-day I expected to become nervous and anxious like before. This was about the time when I should be getting into a state but nothing was happening. I tried to concentrate on getting upset, but I just decided to put the kettle on and make tea. I tried again to worry but it wouldn’t happen. Wow! I couldn’t sweat or get upset. Fascinating! This was great.
Very soon afterwards I applied for another test and when the date came through I made another appointment with the hypnotherapist. I may not have needed the appointment but felt it was better than running the risk of perhaps failing again.
The day came and I felt fine. During the run-up to the test I felt fine. Along came the examiner, a different one, not a big sombre man in a black undertaker’s coat. A stroke of luck, though I wonder now how I would have felt if it had been the same examiner. I will never know and it does not matter. I passed my test that day. I was so laid back I was “horizontal” in comparison to the first time. My experience of hypnotherapy sparked a curiosity to find out more.
Several years later I trained as an Iyengar Yoga Teacher and the impending examination was quite demanding. I had to demonstrate several different postures over about an hour as well as demonstrate how I would teach a posture with all the safety aspects, but the thought of having to stand on my head in front of a panel of judges was daunting, to say the least. I phoned the hypnotherapist and found that he was working in England for several months.
That prompted me to get out the phone book again and by this time there was an advert for Angela Trainer and the Harvest Clinic of Hypnotherapy.
I made my appointment. I only had time for one session before my exam but with the added benefit of Angela’s self-hypnosis tape I got through the day of the exam and have been teaching Yoga now for nearly 20 years.
In 1995 I gained my Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy with the LCCH.
Since then I have also have studied and gained qualifications in several complementary therapies including Bowen Technique and Kinesiology, Reiki and Reflexology, and always use self-hypnosis to pass exams. I have my motor bike licence and motor boat qualification. As well as practising as a Clinical Hypnotherapist at the the Harvest Clinic and as a Supervisor for the LCCH I run my own hypnotherapy clinic in the south of Glasgow. I also teach regular courses in Indian Head Massage and Therapeutic Body Massage at Langside College in Glasgow and run courses at the Harvest Clinic.
Without doubt, hypnotherapy is one of the best things that ever happened to me and I am honoured and delighted to pass on the benefits to the many clients I have seen over the years.
p.s. My first experience of hypnotherapy was effective but also taught me what not to do. Definitely no dark bedrooms or red lights!
Please get in touch if there is anything you would like to ask in relation to hypnotherapy and driving test nerves.
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