Peak performance refers to the experience of doing something to the very best of your ability.
Peak performance is often discussed in the context of sports--think of an elite athlete at the top of her game--but it is actually relevant to a wide range of activities.
From artists, performers, and musicians to businesspeople, teachers, and doctors, just about anyone can achieve peak performance. It’s similar to what some refer to as “flow”--the feeling of being totally immersed in a challenging, rewarding activity.
Just as an athlete might work with a trainer to get in peak physical shape, some people who are looking to achieve peak performance also choose to work with therapists in order to get their mental game in tip-top shape.
Who might benefit from therapy for peak performance?
Anyone who is looking to improve their performance in a challenging activity might benefit from therapy for peak performance.
This is especially true if you think psychological challenges like performance anxiety or self-esteem issues might be getting in the way of doing your best.
Some specific kinds of individuals who might benefit from therapy for peak performance include:
- Other artists and/or performers
- People with jobs or passions that require a lot of public speaking
- Managers and negotiators in a variety of fields
- Doctors, lawyers, teachers, and others in high-pressure professions
What kinds of issues can therapy for peak performance address?
Therapy for peak performance can help with any aspect of the psychological side of performance.
Everyone’s needs are different, but some common issues that therapy for peak performance can address include:
- Performance anxiety: Performance anxiety is a very common form of anxiety. If you’re able to do your best when no one is watching but struggle under the spotlight, peak performance therapy can help.
- Self-esteem issues: It can be hard to put your best foot forward when you’re secretly worried you’re not good enough. Therapy can help you gain the confidence to own your skills and abilities and get comfortable showing them off.
- Problems related to attention and focus: Especially if you have a diagnosis like ADHD, it can be hard to stay focused under pressure. Therapy for peak performance can help you train your mind to keep your attention focused on what’s important.
- Building positive habits: Sometimes, peak performance requires support in refining routines or building healthy habits around sleep, eating, and self-care. A therapist can help you identify areas in your life where you can make concrete changes to achieve peak performance.
- Processing past challenges: If you’ve previously struggled with failure or even trauma around the activity you’re performing--for example, if you’re an athlete who once suffered an injury while competing--therapy for peak performance can help you process those memories and move on to a more positive future.
What are the best types of therapy for peak performance?
Therapists for peak performance practice a wide range of therapy types. The type you choose will depend on your specific needs and the issues you want to focus on.
Some types of therapy that may be especially helpful for peak performance include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) (especially for issues relating to self-esteem and thought patterns)
- Mindfulness Practices (especially for issues around anxiety and attention)
- Holistic Therapy
- Narrative Therapy
- Psychodynamic Therapy
What should I look for in a therapist for peak performance?
You’ll want to make sure that your therapist is qualified to practice therapy for peak performance, as well as any specific related mental health problems you may be experiencing (such as anxiety or ADHD). This will usually involve:
- Advanced education in a field related to mental health, such as psychiatry, psychology, or social work;
- Licensure to practice in the state where you live;
- Additional training and/or experience in providing therapy for peak performance, along with previous experience with any mental health conditions you want to address. For example, if you want to focus on overcoming performance anxiety, you’ll want to work with a therapist who is experienced in treating anxiety.
Finally, as with any therapy, it’s important to make sure that your therapist is a good fit for your unique needs. Be sure to evaluate the following in your initial calls with therapists:
- How will you pay for therapy? Does the therapist take your insurance or otherwise offer rates that will work with your budget?
- When and where will you attend sessions? Does the therapist offer treatment at a location that is convenient for you and at times that work with your schedule?
- Most importantly, do you feel comfortable talking to this therapist and sense that you have the potential to develop a therapeutic alliance?