Driving Anxiety Treatment

Driving a car is probably the most risky thing many of us do. and therefore some people will experience driving anxiety and require treatment for their phobia.

Some people have driving anxiety because

  • they have been involved in a car accident either as a passenger or the driver

  • they have panic attacks and fear they will have one whilst driving and lose control of the car

  • they fear their driving will be negatively evaluated by others

‘People who have panic attacks may fear driving their car on a freeway, or through the Domain or Mullum Mullum Tunnels, or over the Westgate Bridge.

These people need graded, repeated, prolonged, massed exposure to driving on freeways, through tunnels and over bridges. In order to make driving anxiety treatment manageable clients may first start driving in light traffic with a support person and gradually work up to driving in heavy traffic alone.

Some motorists will develop post traumatic stress disorder after a motor vehicle accident and may require assistance from a psychologist, in order to get back behind the wheel. I have worked with people who, having had a serious car accident, were unable to even look at a car resembling their vehicle, without experiencing significant fear. These drivers need to be slowly and gently exposed to driving. The driving experience may need to be broken down into very small, manageable steps. Even sitting in the car without turning the ignition on may be stressful for a traumatised motorist.

Traumatised motorists need to develop an exposure hierarchy as part of their driving anxiety treatment in order to get back on the road again.

For example, initially an anxious motorist might just drive up and down a dead end street. Then they might progress to driving around quiet back streets. Then they might venture onto a more busy road, and eventually work up to driving on a freeway. Some anxious drivers might feel safer with someone sitting beside them, but others feel more stress if accompanied as they fear they might injure or kill their passenger. Many motorists with post traumatic stress disorder can overcome their fear of driving a car with graded, repeated, prolonged, massed exposure.

UInfotunately, real life exposure to feared driving scenarios can be difficult to organise because of, for example, time constraints and/or the difficulty of accessing a suitable support person to accompany the anxious driver.

However, in order to overcome the dificulties many clients experience getting sufficient exposure to their feared driving scenarios, I offer virtual reality exposure therapy, where the client is able to experience, via wearing a headset, a sense of prescence in a computer generated, three dimensional motoring environment.

Virtual reality exposure is also more acceptable to clients than getting behind the wheel of a real car on a real road, which is understandable as there is no risk of a car accident in virtual reality exposure.

Virtual reality also has the advantage that it allows us to provide exposure to: driving on freeways, going through tunnels, driving over bridges from the safety of my office. Clients can also be exposed to e.g. increasingly heavy traffic, poor weather conditions etc but we have total control over what the client will be exposed to, there are no surprises.

Call now on 0429 883671 or Click here to arrange an appointment to start your journey to panic free driving.


4 Good Reason You Should Call Us!

Quick appointments no matter where you live in Australia. Online shyness, public speaking and anxiety treatment available.

Minimal out of pocket expense (Medicare & Health fund Rebates)

Clinical Psychologist with approx. 25 years of experience. Also offering virtual reality exposure therapy.

Business hours, After hours and Saturdays appointments

Frequently Asked Questions

Anxiety Australia is an anxiety clinic in Hawthorn, Melbourne that is run by Catherine Madigan, who is a clinical psychologist. She primarily focuses on treating anxiety disorders and stress management techniques to individuals and businesses through one on one consultations and stress management workshops.

She offers professional, discreet and confidential treatment options that work.

Catherine’s effective anxiety treatments offered in Melbourne can help you overcome disorders such as:

Call now for an appointment on 0429 883 671

The website provides information about anxiety disorders and the treatment options available. You will also find contact details for other psychologists around Australia who have substantial experience in and/or work primarily with anxiety disorders.

Catherine Madigan is a Melbourne based Clinical Psychologist. She is passionate about empowering clients with confidence. The reason her focus is primarily on the treatment of anxiety disorders is that she gains great satisfaction by witnessing the freedom and life changing results her therapies can deliver.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in Australia, with 1/7 people (14% of the population) reporting having had an anxiety disorder in the last 12 months. Women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men, 18% vs 11%. ABS National Survey of Mental Health & Wellbeing, Summary of Results 2007.

Anxiety or fear is a normal response to a present or imagined threat. Mild fear can be helpful as it enables us to respond quickly when faced with a dangerous situation and to be alert in difficult situations (e.g. exams). However, excessive fear may lead to people being paralysed e.g. soldiers under attack may be so afraid they can’t move to take cover, public speakers may find they go blank, forget their lines and are rendered speechless.

Anxiety is a normal emotion as it affects most people and is widespread. You would be abnormal if you didn’t experience fear sometimes. However, if your anxiety is out of proportion to the situation you are experiencing and/or persists in the absence of threat, e.g you worry about events months ahead or are experiencing anxiety long after the danger has passed, you may need professional help.

Some people are more prone to experiencing anxiety than others and it is not caused by just one thing but by a combination of factors including: genetics, family environment and traumatic life experiences. Sufferers may have unhelpful thinking patterns such as perfectionist standards. Nevertheless, you can learn to manage your anxiety more effectively.

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