Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy for severe music performance anxiety: assessment, process, and outcome of psychotherapy with a professional orchestral musician

Med Probl Perform Art. 2014 Mar;29(1):3-7. doi: 10.21091/mppa.2014.1002.


This paper reports on the process and outcome of therapy using intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy (ISTDP) with a professional musician who had suffered severe music performance anxiety over the course of his entire 30-year career. In this paper, we describe the nature of the therapy, the case history of the musician, the first assessment and trial therapy session, and the course and successful outcome of therapy. The patient underwent 10 sessions of ISTDP over a period of 4 months. This paper reports on the first 6 sessions, which were most relevant to the understanding and treatment of the patient's severe music performance anxiety. This case study is the first reported application of ISTDP to a professional musician. We believe that this case study provides initial support that moderate to severe performance anxiety, in at least some cases, has its origins in unresolved complex emotions and defences arising from ruptures to early attachment relationships.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music / psychology*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Occupational Diseases / therapy*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Performance Anxiety / psychology
  • Performance Anxiety / therapy*
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome