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Dr. Clare Albright, Psy.D.


License PSY11660


5 Ways a Counselor Can Help You get Your Driving Anxiety Out of your Life

We all have that anxious moment behind the wheel, but when it became a phobia, it’s time to see a counselor. Also called driving phobia or freeway anxiety, driving anxiety range differently from one individual to another. People with this kind of anxiety or fear cannot stand it when they see anything or someone crossing the road, or getting trapped in traffic and they will end up throwing up, experience panic attacks and eventually lose control of the vehicle. How can a counselor help?

Help them lay out their fears

When talking to people with the driving phobia, help them lay out their fears. Start with their worst fear and things that provoke this fear. Knowing early their worst fear means you can gradually help them to overcome these fears and reclaim freedom.








Talk about past negative experiences

Car accidents, driving through a storm, getting lost, road rage victimization and panic attacks are all traumatic when it comes to driving. These things are the main reasons for freeway phobias and driving phobias in general. People with this phobia find themselves replaying the scenes in the mind and worrying what if it happens again, will they be in control of the situation?Talk to a counselor.

Use hypnosis therapy

A therapist can use hypnosis therapy to help people with the driving phobia.  According to a clinical hypnotherapist, Henrique de Azevedo, “Fear of driving has its causes in the subconscious mind,” there is a primary cause of this fear. It can be related to a first, second or even third event. 

Suggesting a coping statement or affirmations


A counselor can help you figure out a phrase of encouragement, a reminder or something that keeps them in control like, "I'm calm, comfortable and relaxed while driving and enjoying listening to music.”





Treatment Options for Conquering Driving Phobia

Considering how many adults use cars every single day, it might be hard to imagine how common driving phobia is. Even individuals with licenses and vehicles of their own may try to put off driving whenever possible, experience anxiety when driving in conditions or even have panic attacks when they are behind the wheel. The first thing that you should know if you are one of these people is: You are not alone. A fear of driving afflicts adults and learning teens of all ages.

This fear can make it difficult to conduct day-to-day business, such as running errands and driving to work. It can keep people from traveling or experiencing life at its fullest because they cannot bear to drive too far.

Driving phobia can be triggered by a number of circumstances, including:

  • Having been in or having witnessed an accident on the road previously

  • Driving outside of familiar areas and routes

  • Preexisting anxiety that manifests itself while driving

  • A fear of losing control, especially in inclement weather

  • The fear of getting into an accident and getting yourself or someone else hurt

It’s healthy to be cautious when driving, but a phobia can severely debilitate a person’s ability to live their life. So, what can you do about it? How can you tackle this fear and take life by the wheel? Fortunately, treating driving phobia is pretty straight-forward and most often successful.

Try exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy

When someone is afraid of getting behind the wheel, it impacts their life -- not just their ability to drive. Exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy may help. Exposure therapy, even just from the comfort of the counselor’s office may diminish the fear and retrain the brain to stop the fear responses from happening.

Talking to a counselor may help control the negative repetitive thoughts and the anxiety, allowing positive thoughts to control your thinking. Affirmation and exposure therapy may help you regain your freedom.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

First and foremost, you need to address the cause of your phobia. You might already know exactly what has triggered your fear, but if you don’t a cognitive behavioral therapist can help you to do that. Beyond that, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you to overcome this fear and begin a life where you can drive with confidence.

While it might seem impossible or even counter-productive, having more and more exposure to driving can tame this fear.

Hear me out for a moment. Cognitive behavioral therapy, when paired with exposure therapy, is often the solution to driving phobia. Many people who experience anxiety or fear while driving feel that they have gotten so very close to having an accident so many times, even if they have never been in an accident themselves. The longer you drive and the more experience that you gain behind the wheel, the sooner you will realize just how unlikely you are to get involved – much less cause – an accident.

This doesn’t mean that your therapist will pressure you to drive on the interstate right away. Sometimes, patients have to practice driving in parking lots or even in their own driveway before they are ready to face driving in the outside world. Your therapist will help you assess your feelings and the sources of those feelings before urging you to try more advanced driving.

Don’t feel badly if this seems to take “too much time.” There is no one set pace that’s considered the standard. Sometimes it can take years to get someone comfortable enough to drive in poor weather or on high-speed roads. This is perfectly okay and shouldn’t be seen as a failure on your or your therapist’s part. What matters is that you are making strides to improve and advance your life by getting over your fear of driving.

Sometimes, an underlying anxiety problem could bring about a phobia of driving, especially in new drivers. A cognitive behavioral therapist will also be able to address these problems and help you to overcome any anxiety that effects your ability to drive with confidence. You don’t have to be fearful of driving!

Call Dr. Clare Albright, Psy.D. CA Psychologist License PSY11660 at (949) 454-0996 at

Fear of Driving
Driving Phobia
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