Driver Knowledge Tests

Using hypnosis or hypnotherapy to help you pass your driving test

If driving makes you nervous or you’ve had a few goes at passing the theory or practical test and you’ve psyched yourself out and failed, hypnotherapy is something you can use to help improve your confidence behind the wheel.

Hypnotherapy is not like the stage hypnosis that you see where the hypnotist convinces someone they’re a chicken; you remain in full control and it’s more like a relaxed, suggestive state.

We spoke to Victoria Bonello, a clinical hypnotherapist in Sydney who runs Heal With Hypnotherapy (there’s a link to her site at the end of this article). Victoria has worked with many different clients, including those that were struggling with passing the DKT or practical test, so we asked her a few questions.

Why would a person choose hypnotherapy to help with their theory driving test?

Hypnotherapy is merely reaching a relaxed state with our minds, enabling us to feel calm, relaxed, focused and confident when placed in a state or situation causing us anxiety, or fear, or false beliefs as to our abilities.  Being able to achieve this state can allay test stress and assist in recall.  Everyone can tell a story of a time they couldn’t recall a name or answer a question when stressed, yet once relaxed, they can easily recall the name or answer.

Using gentle breathing methods, and other methods provided by a hypnotherapist, a relaxed state can be reinforced during a session and also practised by the client whilst doing theory tests so that once attempting the actual test the client is either stress free, or able to lower their level of stress to a more comfortable level to be able to more easily recall answers to tests.  They may even begin to enjoy taking tests as a means of recalling information and gaining confidence in being able to answer questions on tests.

Why would a person choose hypnotherapy to help with their practical driving test?

Accessing a relaxed, confident state of mind is a skill and can often be learned by implementing new ways of thinking using different techniques introduced during hypnotherapy sessions and whilst in an hypnotic state.  A light hypnotic state can be reached when feeling tense by practising with the assistance of the hypnotherapist, e.g. practising  gentle breathing methods that have been used during hypnotherapy sessions, and implemented to remain calm and focused during a practical driving test.

Using visualisation during a hypnotherapy session:  i.e. taking the client through the practical test using their imagination – taking them step-by-step, e.g. from putting on their seatbelt,  turning the key to start the car, checking for traffic correctly, using the indicator, etc. all the way through to the successful completion of the end of the test, whilst also introducing positive suggestions of success.

These result in releasing any feelings of stress whist in the ‘simulated/visualised’ driving test state.  This can enable previously nervous and anxious clients to achieve a calmer state of mind and actual success in their test.

What should a person expect when they come in for a hypnotherapy session?

My sessions usually have a structure of:

  • initial interview/counselling – to learn in the client’s own words what they are fearing and what they are feeling and what they wish to gain/achieve; and allowing the therapist and client to gain rapport.
  • followed by the hypnotic/trance relaxation-suggestion-visualisation part of the session
  • finally, release from trance state, testing of anxiety state/release, and post-hypnotic suggestions.

Sessions are usually about 90 minutes, depending on the extent of the client’s anxiety state and needs.

What would be a typical number of sessions that people would have, and how would they monitor progress?

One to three sessions can be sufficient for test anxiety, depending on the client’s life experience and personality.

Is there anything specific about how you do hypnotherapy?

Depending on the client’s personality and requirements, I work with either gentle processes, or rapid inductions. I assist clients to achieve deep, lasting results.

When in an hypnotic state one can be assisted by the therapist to access the ‘truth’ of why we are experiencing stress, fear, anxiety, etc. as opposed to what we may ‘falsely believe’ to be the reason we are experiencing such feelings.  I also help reframe one’s view of what one fears, or have experienced in the past, enabling one to gain either a positive view or for the client to move on from what has caused anxiety and fear and deal with their past and future life with confidence.

What questions should you ask your hypnotherapist to ensure they’re the right fit for you?

Have they treated many clients who have experienced anxiety, and whether they have specifically treated clients for test anxiety?

How long are the sessions?

How many sessions would they need?

What is the cost of your sessions?

Are there any other techniques/methods/treatments that you would recommend that augment hypnotherapy and improve its results?

I would also recommend meditation, which I believe can enable us to become mindful of the ease of life that can be attained in whatever situation we face.  I also assist some clients to practise self-hypnosis – so they can re-enforce a relaxed state, stress relief, and visualising their success.

Can you give me an example of a person who has benefited from your hypnotherapy in relation to taking the test (or any test) – how the person was when they came in (i.e. the challenges they had had with taking tests, and any specific difficulties they were having) vs how they were when they finished the treatment.

I have had clients with various exam/test difficulties over my years of practising hypnotherapy.  One particular case was able to easily complete the theory exam, yet experienced heightened anxiety during the practical driving exam, resulting in initial failure of his driving test.  Whist intelligent he was unable to focus on directions and requests from the examiner, and experienced anxiety whilst practising driving and this heightened during the actual exam.

After the first session he found it easier and more natural to set about practising driving with much less stress. With a subsequent session he was able to release stress completely as the test date grew closer and practised 5 to 10 minutes of relaxed breathing and visualisation of going through the test and completing it successfully.  The result was the successful completion of the practical test, whilst being much more relaxed throughout his exam.

If you are struggling with your theory or practical driving test you can get hold of Victoria by visiting

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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