Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety makes an impact on a number of levels:

  1. Physical effects (body, voice, heart rate, etc..)
  2. Cognitive effects (losing focus, narrowing of focus, etc..)
  3. Behavioral effects (underperforming, choking, panicking, etc..)

There are a variety of treatment models for performance anxiety, and the approach needs to be carefully in line with the needs of the client. Most effective training requires the use of PST, or Psychological Skills Training, which includes instruction in the optimal practice techniques, the use of memorization or chunking, techniques for refocusing under pressure, and improvisation.

Because performance anxiety affects a wide range of high-achieving individuals, we know that it may be the norm rather than the exception. However, if the performance anxiety leads to inhibitions, block, panic, or avoidance, it needs to be addressed. Eliana Cohen Psychology has helped individuals from a variety of areas, including:

  • Chief executives,
  • Olympians and other elite-track athletes,
  • Students,
  • Coaches,
  • Sales teams,
  • Post-injury recovering athletes and executives

Choking under pressure is a form of performance anxiety when the most highly skilled individuals do not perform at top capacity. In fact, it is labeled as “choking” when the individual, who is capable of an exceptional performance, ends up delivering a sub-optimal performance in a highly stressful situation.

Not all failures are the same, and the science of choking has been able to distinguish between different “failures” and the parts of the brain that get activated. Performance relies on memory, and when an individual is under stress, some types of memory (explicit vs. procedural) can lead to different types of chokes. If you are interested in seeking assistance with performance anxiety, call Eliana Cohen Psychology in Toronto to schedule a consultation.