It’s official: according to a recent survey, Britain is now the road rage capital of Europe. That’s not really surprising. One psychologist recently defined road rage as: “an extreme reaction to feelings of impotence brought about by stress through provocation during conditions of enforced entrapment.” That’s about as close a description of some of Britain’s roads at rush hour as you are likely to find in a science manual. And it’s rapidly in danger of becoming the complacent norm...
...So if we’re all prone to the menace, what can we do about it? Maybe a modern curse required a modern solution. Everybody talks about ‘alternative therapy’ these days so we thought we’d join the new age band wagon and find some alternative road rage therapy.
Driving was first alerted to the work of Jill Schmitt by its sister publication Driving Instructor; and not because of its relevance to road rage but another driving related topic altogether. A learner driving had failed her test three times and put each failure down to a chronic attack of nerves. Luckily, her driving instructor, Brendan O’Neill, was a friend of therapist Jill Schmitt, and recommended a visit. She attended a therapy session and subsequently passed her driving test with no sign of nerves whatsoever. Impressive, but could Jill employ her talents to cure someone of road rage? A phone called later, and we had our answer...
Jill uses a technique known as Thought Field therapy. It’s an alternative psychotherapy treatment which claims to produce results by tapping various part of the body to rebalance its natural energy system. The tapping is thought to correct ‘perturbations’ in the energy fields, called thought fields that cause psychological disturbances.
Different ‘algorithms’ or tapping sequences are employed by the therapist to treat different problems. Once these energy disturbances are corrected, it is claimed that the psychological problems will dissipate.
No, we kid you not, so stop laughing and pay attention. Sounds like new-age mumbo-jumbo? Well, needless to say, I went along to Jill’s Oxshott clinic with an open mind and as few prejudices as was possible in the circumstances (quite a few, in other words).
Nonetheless, it had worked for one nervous learner driving and for dozens of other patients, why couldn’t it work for me?
In the event, the session was short, professional and remarkably straightforward, if inevitably rather bizarre to the uninitiated. I was asked to bring to mind a specific example of road rage or aggressive behaviour at the wheel. I thought of the situation, details of which came back to me with shocking clarity and immediacy. I was asked to assign a ‘stress rating’ to those feelings on a scale of one to ten. Needless to say, it was a big fat nine. Jill then asked me to hold the thoughts and feels of this event strongly in my mind as she got me to copy a series of movements which involved tapping under the arm, beneath the nose and so on, with my fingers. I did so. Periodically she also got me to hum and count out loud.
Jill then asked me to give my feelings a new 'stress rating'. Unfortunately, I was faintly embarrassed, my recall of the event good. In short, I was still boiling. We repeated the procedure.
Again she asked me to assign a 'stress rating'. Now at this point, whether it was the therapy, the general absurdity of the situation or the thought of that seven-foot tattooed hooligan in his Beemer tapping various parts of his anatomy and humming, but I was starting to feel rather light-hearted about the whole thing. I gave it a five.
We repeated the process once more and, by this, the image had really taken hold. I was down to a two. Halleluja. I was cured.
Or was I? Jill gave me my 'prescription': a written list of the tapping and humming sequence we had just followed which was, apparently, specific to me and to my aggression at the wheel. My personal road rage medicine in other words.
At this point I began to smell a rat. Now hold on a minute, I thought. Does she mean to tell me that the next time I find myself eyeball to eyeball with a big ugly meat-head in a Beemer, all I have to do is get out my bit of paper, start digital self-flagellation and he’ll disappear in a puff of smoke?
Well, no, not exactly. But by repeating the sequence to myself at periodic and convenient moments, apparently I may get in touch with the feelings of that moment and manage to avoid the habitual sequence of events which led up to the incident in the first place. Or at least, that the theory..
There's absolutely no denying that I drove back from Jill's clinic in Oxshott in particularly placid mood. Admittedly nobody tried to cut me up or tailgate me, but had they done so, I very much doubt that that I would have risen to the challenge. Whether that was down to the therapy, a placebo effect, or just the jolly good mood that taking an afternoon off work had put me in is hard to say. As already stated, I am normally a pretty placid chap. Even thinking about the guy in the Beemer was making me smile.
However, I did make a point of driving back via Purley Cross and putting myself in the inside lane. A car drove up beside me at the lights and I deliberately turned my head to make eye contact with the driver, but he looked steadfastly ahead. I got in touch with my inner feelings and prepared for the worst as he revved his engine and edged forward. I will take the whole thing in my stride and not rise to the aggression, I thought. I am prepared. Just then the lights turned green. The driver turned his head, gave me a benign smile and beckoned me in front of him. He was driving a Vauxhall.
It’s not us that need the therapy, I thought; it's the BMW drivers.
Jill firmly believes in a holistic approach, and will discuss client needs on an individual basis to decide upon the most appropriate treatment to pursue. Sometimes a combination of approaches is the most effective - Thought Field Therapy overcomes fears, NLP creates excellence, and Reiki promotes a sense of peace and well-being.
Consultations are personal and confidential, and are conducted face to face in Oxshott, Surrey or over the telephone. Consultants can also be held at the client’s premises, if necessary.
Initial consultations will be for 2 hours. Many people will require only one or two sessions.