Information for Students with Test Anxiety
RRP Test Anxiety Trial by Dr. Tkach
What is Test Anxiety?
Test Anxiety is a common uncomfortable feeling. Just about every student experiences it to some degree. Many people who appear happy and calm during tests are actually experiencing it, but mask it well.
Why is it important? If Test Anxiety is consuming 30% of your intellectual energy to keep a lid on the anxiety, it robs you of putting your whole energy into the doing the test. It prevents you from being all you can be. Plus, it just does not feel good.
With 100% of your mental energy freed up, you will be surprised how well you can perform. Test Anxiety sort of locks you in a prison of the mind. RRP can set you free.
Rapid Reintegration Procedure
Rapid Reintegration Procedure (RRP) is a non-threatening new form of psychotherapy invented by Canadian medical doctor Edgar Barnett in August 2003. It is new, but evolved from his 40+ years of experience treating patients with phobias using hypnosis. I started training in RRP with Dr. Barnett in May 2004.
Dr. Barnett was born and raised in England and went to medical school in England. He has been doing psychotherapy for over 40 years. He has written two books on psychotherapy 1. Analytical Hypnotherapy 2. Unlock your mind. Also, based on his ideas we have written a book together, Rapid Reintegration Procedure. His RRP evolved after 40 years of his experiences and ideas in treating patients with psychological problems.
What is RRP? At first we thought it was a type of hypnosis or "waking hypnosis," and it may very well be. The problem with that is that hypnosis traditionally requires a procedure called induction, induction of a hypnotic trance. In RRP, there is no hypnotic induction done. You retain full consciousness and complete control at all times. It may be a form of hypnosis unique to RRP. Dr. Barnett thinks that, since the doctor is talking directly to the unconscious mind, RRP involves some sort of hypnotic state.
The reason traditional psychotherapy often fails is that it requires people to reveal their innermost, private, embarrassing or threatening, or frightening secrets. With RRP, you do not need to reveal details of a secret, person, embarrassing, or private nature.
The procedure is between you and yourself. I guide you, and I am there with you all the way so you do not need to go through it alone. You won't go through it alone. But, you are not required to tell me anything about the personal details. That's why it is non-threatening. I have skills in RRP, I am not a trained psychotherapist or psychiatrist. I do not prescribe psychotropic drugs.
Drug Treatment of Test Anxiety
You may have heard that propranolol (Inderal) taken an hour before a test will overcome test anxiety. The problem is that Inderal is a beta-blocker and may impede, to some extent, the full skills you can bring to the test taking. Beta-blockers prevent the racing heart beat and pounding in the ears. Some people experience low blood pressure with beta-blockers, and I have one patient who fainted from Inderal.
Dr. Barnett and I wondered if there is a non-drug way to achieve the same goal, a better way, a more natural way, and a way that puts you in control instead of the anxiety in control. This is a trial of RRP to achieve those goals. It is an experimental study. We are trying to find out the efficacy of RRP for Test Anxiety. You will hear me refer to the Test Anxiety as "that uncomfortable feeling."
Sessions are held at my home in my upstairs study. Essentially, you sit in a chair with your eyes closed in a relaxed state, and I guide you through recalling feelings and old memories to yourself. It is very simple, it occurs very easily, and it is not threatening. In fact, you will find it fun. You will feel alert, awake, and in control. These features inspired Dr. Barnett to call it "waking hypnosis."
What you will experience is more akin to daydreaming. Daydreaming occurs naturally. We experience daydreaming and do not usually find it upsetting.
During RRP you will still be in control at all times. If something about RRP puzzles you, just ask me. If you want to stop and backout, you will be able easily to do so with no harm.
The case of John
John was a 13 year old 8th grader who had been experiencing severe test anxiety for about 4 years. When he sat down to take a test he froze up. After about 15 minutes, he could loosen up enough to take the test, but by then he had only 15 minutes left to take a 30-minute test. Working with a special education teacher in the 4th grade helped him a little, but she stopped coming to his school. In RRP state, the feeling of Test Anxiety carried him back to a memory four years earlier in the fourth grade. He was able to let go of the uncomfortable feeling at its origin and to imagine himself taking tests comfortably.
John's RRP session with me lasted 26 minutes.
The next week he took a science test (his most anxiety-provoking subject, and he did not freeze up. He scored 97 on the test. Within a month, he had similar success in tests in Spanish, math, and another science test. Within two months, John's report card showed all A's. Over the next four years, he continued to do well and won several awards before going off to college. Now a sophomore at Montana State University in Bozeman, John is happy and doing very well at school.
The Case of the Mechanical Engineering Student
C., an upper division mechanical engineering student at Montana State University, Bozeman, had test anxiety since 6th grade. He had a one hour, 25 minutes session with me on a cold snowy Saturday in February 2009. In RRP, he discovered an uncomfortable experience at age 9 and resolved it. 4 days later, he took two tests with no anxiety at all. He was greatly relieved. He took final exams in May and experienced no test anxiety. He did well, and his grades came up.
Graduate students in chemistry have had similar successes with RRP. Some have also worked on stage fright at the same time. This has helped their presentations at seminars.
D. saw me as an undergraduate in chemistry. She knew her stuff but just could not get it out during tests. Her anxiety level was so high, she could not concentrate on the questions or even understand them clearly. Two of her professors were sympathetic and guided her to see me. Her level of childhood trauma was intense, but she was able to resolve those old issues in RRP. She needed four 2-hour sessions. She graduated and now is a graduate student working on her Ph.D. Her happiness level is greatly improved. D. has transformed from a sad young lady into a bright eyed, smiling, beautiful young woman who radiates self-confidence and is greatly admired by her fellow graduate students.
An Art Student
T. was a graduating senior. She was very conscientious about studying and knew her art history well. But she was terrified of the final exam in art history. T. had a 1-hour session with me that went very well. A few days later, she took the final exam and got an A. She graduated. Her testimony is in our book Rapid Reintegration Procedure on page 80 and on the back cover.
Risks of RRP
Dr. Barnett and I think RRP is safe. However, there is something you should think about before deciding to try RRP. What will your life be like once you have achieved freedom from test anxiety? If you have been a victim of test anxiety for years, you have built up a life style, and those around you have adjusted to it. RRP is really like being set free from a prison.
How will your significant others and family and friends react when you suddenly stop acting that way? There are social implications.
RRP results are immediate and dramatic. When you have achieved results in RRP therapy, there will be no question in your mind about it. Your whole attitude about taking tests will change and surprise you and others. You will be delighted. You will be looking forward to taking tests. As I have said before, it is like being released from jail and like being given all the respect, rights, and privileges of a normal first class citizen.
If at some later time, you experience a recurrence of the old uncomfortable test anxiety symptoms, I recommend another RRP session to find out what stirred it up and to correct it. RRP does not replace your need to study and master the material.
How To Get Started With RRP for the Treatment of Test Anxiety
Because these are trial studies, there will be no fee. If RRP sounds interesting to you do this:
- Determine if you want me to help you. Make a commitment to work with me. That will be very easy. I won't ask you to do anything difficult. You will find it easy to work with me.
- Let's work in cooperation with your doctor or therapist.
Obtain a letter of referral from him or her at your expense. The
letter should state clearly that the doctor is referring you to me for
RRP therapy as an adjunct to the other treatments, briefly state what
the symptoms are, present medicines and what drugs and treatments have
been tried. Your doctor must understand I am not an internist and I am
NOT trying to take over your care or your medications management.
Those things are up to you and your personal doctor.
If you do not have a doctor or therapist, you may refer your own self.
- Understand that I videotape the sessions for Dr. Barnett to review, and I shall review them.
- Discuss with your family and friends how your life is about to change. Ask them to support you in this effort. Think it over for about a week before you go on to the next step.
- Call my secretary to schedule yourself for RRP. (406) 587-5442.
- Come to my home on a Saturday morning or several Saturdays. If you are not going to come, you must call my office two days in advance and cancel. I am doing this in my spare time, and I don't have much spare time. If you fail to show up for your session, you will be dropped from the study. I'd like you to bring a spouse, relative, or friend as a chaperone.
- Send me a letter at 6 months, one year, two years, and three years letting me know how you are doing.
- Sign the release of liability (availble from my office).
- To prepare for RRP, do this homework assignment. Every time you experience your symptoms, instead of bemoaning it, identify the feelings associated the symptoms.
You will have to read and sign a copy of this with the release form before being seen by Dr. Tkach for RRP.
Rev. Mar. 13, 2010 copyright Dr. Tkach
Learn more about the Rapid Reintegration Procedure or buy a copy of Dr. Barnett and Dr Tkach's book.