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Does Therapy Work?

We can use the metaphor of driving lessons to think about the question ‘does therapy work’?

Try asking any driving instructor the following three questions:

  1. ‘Do driving lessons work?
  2. ‘How many driving lessons will I need?’
  3. ‘Are driving lessons guaranteed?’

Don’t be overly surprised if the driving instructor looks at you a bit strangely. The reason he might do this is because your ability to drive has very little to do with the answer to any of those questions!

Let me explain what I mean and why.

Do Driving Lessons Work?

It seems like an odd question really ‘do driving lessons work?’ because it is one of the main methods that people ‘use’ in order to make the transition from ‘not being able to drive’ to ‘being able to drive’, certainly here in the UK anyway. Judging by the number of driving instructors that you can pick from the answer would seem to be a definite yes, driving lessons DO intend work inasmuch as people can ‘take lessons’ and become ‘drivers’.

However, if the question is: ‘can anybody who has driving lessons drive?’ the answer then becomes ‘if they learn the skills sufficiently to pass the driving examination, yes’, but even then, a persons ability to pass the driving examination is 100% dependent on the person who learns to drive and then takes the driving test.

Given that driving instructors in the UK all have to meet the same standard before they are able to sell ‘driving lessons’ to people who can’t yet drive, the question of whether or not driving lessons work can be answered by ‘yes, driving lesson do work but the ability to drive is down to the person learning to drive rather than if driving lessons work or not’!

How Many Driving Lessons Will I Need?

Given that some people can learn to drive after only 6 driving lessons and some people who have had 300 driving lessons still can’t pass the driving test it seems that the only really sensible answer to this question must be: ‘It totally depends on how much effort you put in and how much driving aptitude you have’.

Only a ‘fool’ of a driving instructor would tell you an exact number of lessons that you will need before you can drive, he can clearly have no idea about how much aptitude for driving you have and also how much time and effort you’ll put into learning how to drive!

If you really want to learn to drive and are doing it to benefit your own life, then you’ll probably try really hard to listen to everything the driving instructor tells you and focus on becoming a driver, but, on the other hand, if you’re taking driving lessons because your partner is nagging you to learn to drive so that they don’t have to ‘ferry you around everywhere’ then you might put in less effort to learning because you’re only doing it for them.

So, in the final analysis, it seems reasonable to conclude that people will require as many lessons as they need in order to pass the driving test, and that it is pretty impossible to predict what the number of lessons will be for each person.

We have seen data that people can learn to drive in any number of lessons from 17 to 67 so there seems to be no definitive number of lessons required.

Are Driving Lessons Guaranteed?

In other words, ‘if I pay you for driving lessons am I guaranteed to pass the driving test?’.

Now, guaranteeing that somebody will pass their driving test regardless of their ability or how much effort they put into driving is, we would suggest, rather a risky venture, however, we have found at least 2 UK companies that offer this service. Their, ‘guaranteed pass’ driving courses cost £1,800 and if you don’t pass your test within 12 months, you then have to pay for any more lessons you have after 12 months, so even in these cases, they seem to build-in a ‘fail-safe’ that if you don’t pass then you have to pay even more money – not much of a guarantee really.

In the real world it seems far more sensible to think of the number of driving lessons that might be required as being within a ‘range’ of, say 20 to 70.

The Person Learning is the ‘Variable’

Hopefully, by thinking about these questions in relation to learning how to drive, it can be seen that driving lessons are, on the whole, delivered to people in pretty much the same way all over the country and that a persons ability to pass a driving test goes well beyond simply the number of driving lessons they have.

The fact is that human beings are highly complex and variable ‘things’ and that NO TWO people learn in the same way as another.

Let’s re-visit those questions using answers that seem more reasonable based on these preceding ideas:

  1. ‘Do driving lessons work?’ Of course they do, but people learn to drive at different rates
  2. ‘How many driving lessons will I need?’ The average person needs between 20 and 50 lessons, but everybody is different and so its impossible to be definitive.
  3. ‘Are driving lessons guaranteed?’ Obviously not, the ability to take lessons and then drive as a result of those lessons depends on the person who is learning.

Now try This:

  1. ‘Does Therapy Work’?
  2. ‘How Many Sessions Will I Need’?
  3. ‘Is Therapy Guaranteed’?

If you now go back and think about these questions but instead of ‘driving lessons’ instead think of ‘therapy’ then we hope that you can see that the answers are all but identical.

  1. Yes, therapy does work – as indeed do driving lessons
  2. The number of sessions you will need is completely dependent on you – rather like driving lessons really
  3. And NO, sorry, therapy, like driving lessons, is impossible to guarantee because YOU are the variable component and you are complicated!

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