Performance Enhancement Service

This service is for individuals or groups (usually teams). It is a time-limited intervention based upon psychological trauma treatments - consisting of EMDR followed by CBT when the EMDR is completed.

What is the connection between 'performance enhancement' and psychological trauma? The answer is surprisingly easy. Consider the following:

You are a sportsman or woman (or a team or a sports coach). With the Olympics coming up, you are hoping that your performance can be improved – indeed maximised, after all that is what winning medals is about.

Do you stand a chance of a medal? Do your 'nerves' let you down? The answer is probably yes to both questions. It might be that at a crucial point doubting thoughts occur that generate the anxiety that effectively spoils your performance. Just as it is possible to recall a painful memory and the negative emotions associated with it, it is easily possible to generate a future image of a performance situation that is also associated with negative emotions. This is the connection between performance enhancement and psychological trauma. Using EMDR, we desensitise i.e. remove the negative emotions from the future images as well as the past ones. The result is that the individual 'sees' themselves succeeding but also is unable to generate the negative - 'performance-interfering' emotions. Even better, it 'feels' convincing as well. The following is an example of both a psychological trauma and performance enhancement combined:

A 38 year old equestrian sportsman was riding his horse on a country lane when a car, travelling at speed, came round a bend in the road. Although a collision was avoided, the horse stepped backwards, suddenly unseating the rider and both horse and rider fell, the rider being injured by the falling horse. Later, once the physical injuries had healed, the sportsman attended for the successful treatment of his traumatic memories. He was nevertheless adamant that he would never get on a horse again. He was prepared however to see if further treatment might alter things...

Treatment now switched to an imaginary scenario where the sportsman could see himself getting onto his horse at the stable. He became hugely anxious at even imagining this, but with relatively little EMDR the anxiety disappeared. Further images followed and by repeating the process of erasing the negative emotions from their images, the images now seemed convincing to the sportsman and he asked whether images of entering a dressage competition could be tackled in the same way. Of course they were and to his surprise, suddenly during the therapy, he identified a minor adjustment to his riding style that he hadn't even considered before the riding trauma. He realised this adjustment would improve his performance and he felt re-energised to enter competitions. So not only was he 'rehabilitated' back to riding and competitions, but his performance - initially at least in his mind, was better than before. A few weeks later after physically practising the visual images and their adjustments, he entered his first competition for almost three years. He was obviously elated to win a silver medal after such a long break, yet quietly, he expected it.

Another example involves concentrating firstly on the performance enhancement. In this case performance was enhanced by removing an old distressing memory association:

A 30 year old golfer had been having problems with their golf swing for some time. By using EMDR treatment, the individual stages making up the entire golf swing from walking onto the green to following the flight of the ball were identified. Each 'frame' in this 'mini video' was examined and it soon became evident that the golfer was tensing up during the back-swing. It was not immediately obvious why this was happening, but during the processing of this 'frame' the golfer spontaneously realised that the back-swing was triggering a distressing memory. Further processing revealed a memory of being beaten as a child, which the golfer had not thought of in many years - the back-swing was triggering associations of Dad raising his arm immediately before the pain of being beaten. The golfer had been around 5 or 6 years old at the time. With the touchstone memory identified, EMDR then targeted the memory, desensitising the emotion completely, and installing a positive belief in the, now, 30 year old. On returning to the back-swing 'frame', the golfer reported feeling much less tense. About six months later a considerable improvement in the golf swing was reported and the golfer had reached a competition final not previously achieved.

If you would like to discuss a possible referral please contact us or email us at for further information, and don't worry - you don't need to have a trauma first so as to improve your performance! You may also like to read our Positive Therapy information page.

To find out about our other services please click on any of the tabs shown in the 'Services' menu.