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Ep.80 Understanding Music Performance Anxiety with David Juncos

    David Juncos is a clinical psychologist, author and performance coach who specialises in music performance anxiety. His treatment approach includes the use of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and he has presented his research on this subject on an international scale. He is a faculty member at the Voice Study Centre and his book, Act for Musicians: A Guide for Using Acceptance and Commitment Training to Enhance Performance, Overcome Performance Anxiety and Improve Well-being, is available for purchase now.


    • David is a musician at heart and in his work as a psychologist naturally gravitated towards musicians – this led to his interest in the area of music performance anxiety (MPA).
    • When you have social anxiety, you have a fear of doing things in front of others. When you combine that fear with other symptoms that are highly distressing, you have a disorder. The disorder is not just the presence of symptoms but the presence of symptoms plus distress over having symptoms.
    • People with performance anxiety experience many different symptoms including: physiological arousal symptoms such as tachycardia and shortness of breath; cognitive symptoms, so what your mind is doing when anxious; and behavioural symptoms. Behavioural symptoms cover avoidant or anxious behaviours such as not making eye contact during a performance or positioning yourself further away from the audience.
    • ACT is part of a wave of newer behavioural psychotherapies that have become popular in the last 20 or 30 years. ACT encourages people to learn to coexist with anxious thoughts rather than try to eliminate them. The aim is to create a neutral relationship with anxiety so that you’re not in an adversarial tug-of-war role with yourself and your anxiety.


    ‘There was a lack of good methodological rigour in how these psychotherapies were being studied in the lab’

    ‘What your mind is doing when anxious is worrying about making a mistake and worrying about the implications of making it’

    ‘Being female unfortunately makes you more likely to have MPA’


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    David G. Juncos, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist, author and performance coach based in Philadelphia, PA. He earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from La Salle University in 2015. He has over 17 years of experience in treating a variety of clinical problems, including anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders. He specialises in the treatment of music performance anxiety (MPA) and has presented internationally on his research in using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to treat MPA and enhance music performance. He is on faculty with the Voice Study Centre, a UK-based provider of postgraduate study in Voice Pedagogy and Performance Coaching for Performing Artists. There he provides lectures and tutorials on MPA, ACT, Motivational Interviewing, achieving peak performance, and statistics/research design, and he trains music teachers in ACT coaching to help them manage students’ MPA and other performance-related problems. He recently co-authored his first book, entitled ACT for Musicians: A Guide for Using Acceptance and Commitment Training to Enhance Performance, Overcome Performance Anxiety, and Improve Well-Being. Lastly, he is an amateur songwriter and has performed both as a solo artist and in bands throughout the Philadelphia area as a vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist.

    NOW AVAILABLE: To learn more about David’s book ACT for Musicians,  an evidence-based guide for using Acceptance & Commitment Training to enhance performance skills, overcome performance anxiety, and improve overall well-being, go here:

    See David’s latest publication here:

    Link to podcast presenter’s bios


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