NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

EMDR Therapy For Performance Enhancement

Many clients start psychotherapy because they want to enhance their performance in their career or in their personal life.  Although EMDR therapy is generally known for resolving psychological trauma, since it was developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. in the 1980s EMDR has been used in many other areas, including anxiety reduction, overcoming phobias, and performance enhancement (see my articles: What is EMDR Therapy? and What is Adjunctive EMDR?).

EMDR Therapy For Performance Enhancement

Executives, actors, writers, singers, athletes, artists and people in many other situations seek help from EMDR therapists to overcome their performance anxiety and their related negative beliefs that are getting in the way of their success.

The following fictional vignette illustrates how EMDR therapy is used for performance enhancement:

Fictional Vignette: EMDR Therapy For Performance Enhancement:

When Tom's director told him that he was promoting him to an executive level position with a significant increase in salary, Tom was thrilled.  He worked hard for this promotion, and he was happy that he was being recognized by his director.

Then, his director told Tom that part of the new responsibilities would be to give presentations to the board of directors, and Tom felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

While Tom really wanted the promotion, he dreaded giving presentations--especially to the board of directors.  He suffered with a lifelong dread of public speaking.  Even when he was in high school and he was asked to address his teachers and fellow students, he stammered and trembled on stage.

Giving his presentation in high school was one of the most humiliating experiences of his life. After that experience, he avoided public speaking.  Even in college, he managed to get through without having to do a presentation.  But now he knew that there was too much at stake for his career and he wanted to overcome his fear of public speaking.

A close friend, Jim, told Tom that his son, who was a college basketball player, was seeing an EMDR therapist for performance enhancement.  His son tended to "choke" in a big game, which made him feel ashamed and discouraged.

Jim told Tom that the EMDR therapist helped his son to overcome his performance anxiety and build his self confidence, which helped to enhance his performance.  He recommended that Tom find an EMDR therapist to deal with his anxiety about public speaking.

Tom had never heard of EMDR therapy before, but he looked it up online and saw all the positive research about EMDR's effectiveness, so he contacted an EMDR therapist to begin therapy.

During the first several sessions, Tom's EMDR therapist obtained information about Tom's family history and helped him to develop internal resources.

Then, they were ready to begin processing Tom's fear of public speaking.  His therapist asked Tom to recall his memory of speaking in the auditorium in high school.  After Tom accessed the memory, she asked him several questions, including what his negative belief is about himself as it is related to that memory.

Tom thought about it and said, "I feel powerless when I have to speak in front of an audience."  He told his therapist that he wanted to feel confident and in control when he does public speaking.

Then, Tom and his EMDR therapist began the desensitization phase of EMDR.  While they were doing EMDR, they discovered that there were several other earlier memories that were related to the memory they were working on so, over time, they processed these underlying memories as well.

When Tom no longer felt anxious about his memories, they worked on the current situation and a future situation until Tom no longer felt anxious about speaking in front of the board of directors.

When his therapist checked with Tom to find out if he felt confident and in control about public speaking, Tom said he was very surprised that he actually did feel confident and in control.

The proof came a few months later when, in his new executive position, Tom had to go before the board of directors to do his first presentation to them.

Before the presentation, Tom was surprised to notice that he wasn't at all nervous.  He felt confident that he was the top expert in his company for the topic he would be presenting, so there was no one else who knew more about it than he did.

EMDR Therapy For Performance Enhancement

During his presentation, Tom felt confident and in control.  He also saw his director standing in the back of the room smiling and nodding at him, which made him feel even more confident.

Afterwards, the chief executive officer thanked Tom for an informative presentation and told him that he hoped it would be the first of many.

EMDR therapy was originally developed to help clients to overcome psychological trauma.  However, since it was first developed, EMDR therapy has been found to be highly effective for other types of problems, including performance enhancement.

The fictional vignette presented above represents one way that clients react to EMDR therapy for performance enhancement.  Of course, everyone is different and will have their own idiosyncratic responses.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you're struggling with a problem related to performance anxiety--whether it relates to career issues, taking steps to improve your health or whatever anxiety might be getting in your way of success--you could benefit from EMDR therapy.

The complexity of the anxiety-related problem will be different for each person.  Some people can overcome their performance anxiety in a relatively short time.  Other people have more complicated problems that have roots that go beyond the current situation and would need more time doing EMDR.

Rather than struggling on your own, you could benefit from working with a licensed mental health professional who is an EMDR therapist.

Overcoming your performance anxiety can open up a new world for you.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Psychotherapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

I have helped clients to free themselves from their performance anxiety so they could go on to achieve success in their fields.

I also work as an adjunct psychotherapist for clients who want EMDR, clinical hypnosis or Somatic Experience and who want to remain with their primary therapist 

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.