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Treatment of Music Performance Anxiety via Psychological Approaches: A Review of Selected CBT and Psychodynamic Literature

Julie Jaffee Nagel
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 25 Number 4: Page 141 (December 2010)

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Abstract: Performance anxiety, or stage fright, is anxiety aroused about potential mishaps in performance that expose feared inadequacies before an audience and which evoke feelings of embarrassment and humiliation. For affected musicians, performance anxiety can be emotionally devastating, as their career choice in music may be terminated or severely compromised. This paper focuses on the cognitive and psychodynamic literature about music performance anxiety, with the emphasis that for treatment "one size does not fit all." It reviews the factors underlying performance anxiety and those factors which can exacerbate the condition in musicians. The two major clinical treatment modalities within contemporary psychology, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic treatments, are reviewed. While there are more empirical studies of CBT in various populations in the literature, until recently there was an indifference to empirical research by psychodynamic investigators. However, meta-analyses show strong efficacy for psychodynamic psychotherapy (in various disorders, not specifically music performance anxiety), but also that the benefits of psychodynamic psychotherapy may endure longer and increase with time.

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