Actually, this post should be titled “How I’m trying to overcome a phobia and how freaking difficult it is!”
Growing up in the east coast of Canada, in a city with great public transit, I never felt the need to learn how to drive…or so I told myself. I could get around just fine, and it was something I just didn’t have an interest in learning how to do. Fast forward to present day. I live in the Bay Area and still take public transit everywhere, but I’m feeling the pressure when it comes to not having a driver’s license. So, with much prompting and encouragement from others, I reluctantly went out to get my permit and began learning to drive. This is when I realized I had a phobia- the moment when the possibility of driving actually became a realistic thing…something I was going to do. My anxiety became overwhelming, so much so that just thinking about driving turned me into a sobbing hysterical mess. Even writing about this topic still brings tears to my eyes, despite the fact that I’ve come so far. Currently, I am taking driving lessons, practicing and I even drove on the highway for the first time a few days ago. I’m just waiting for desensitization to (finally) take hold, as this has been going on for months…but I have to admit, it is getting better.
Here are some examples of art therapy directives I thought up that would help someone with a similar phobia (and can easily be adapted to other forms of phobic behaviors):
– Using art making to visualize yourself driving. For example, you can begin by drawing, or perhaps collaging a picture of yourself in a car. The next step would be to create a visual story or comic strip about the drive itself, where in the end everything works out okay and you return safely home.
– Using art making to reduce anxiety before and after a visualization or in vivo session. This can mean simply making a mandala, or perhaps knitting or sewing…anything that you find to be meditative and relaxing.
– One may also decide to create a piece of artwork that includes encouraging phrases or images. This artwork could be also be made before or after a visualization or in vivo session, or perhaps it could just be hanging around the house or car so you get a dose of encouragement through out the day.