I like the variety of my work and recently had another 18 year old lad arrive with some frustration issues. At over 6 foot he reminded me just how quickly boys grow into young men and how they still have social and communication skills to learn. He was wanting to pass his driving test and, while perfectly capable, he was ‘losing it’ at the test every time. He had tried five times already.
So, what was it that was creating the anxiety and frustration? Everyone had told him he was a very capable driver, but he just wasn’t comfortable at the test. Firstly, the waiting unsettled him; everyone waiting for their turn. Then, having a non committal instructor sitting beside him with a sheet on a clipboard to mark bad points off, and finally the knowing at the end he had failed yet again. In fact he clearly remembered the instructors words at the end each time, and the places where he had failed.
I think that just having someone else to discuss this all with is helpful. For instance realising that the examiner is having another day at work and passing and failing is a part of that day. It is his job to make sure people he/she passes are competent on the roads. It is not their fault that the person fails. And, realising that the brain remembers many things good and bad, and will repeat them, allowed him to understand that the memories of past tests could be easily repeated. We needed to break the negative cycle and increase positive thoughts.
Now, I taught this lad some helpful calming techniques which he started using immediately in all sorts of situations so they could become ingrained. He started noticing he was being more open in the classroom, asking and answering questions. He caught himself singing at one point which made him feel like something nice was happening. Other small changes showed he was becoming more relaxed and confident.
At the third session we brought it altogether in a lovely hypnotherapy session. He used his calming techniques as we ran through some imaginary tests, including all the places he had previously lost points but this time doing the moves perfectly. He even got to see himself being told he had passed and feel the elation of that, followed by the thrill of being more independent, able to drive safely on his own.
The next day I received a text that he had passed. He noted he had used the techniques to help him feel calm and it had all worked. He was delighted. Well done! Actually, a lot more was achieved than the successful driving test.