Advice for Dancers

How to Find a Psychologist Who Can Help Improve Your Performance

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How do I know when I've found a good psychologist for peak performance? I've tried therapy with referrals from my insurance, but they knew nothing about dance. I also worked with someone who specialized in sports. Again, it wasn't a good match, since she didn't understand the movements from ballet that I'm trying to improve. What are my options?

—Lily, Summit, NJ



When your goal in therapy is to become a stronger performer, you need a mental health professional who understands dance vocabulary and is aware of possible impediments, such as hypermobility or lack of stage experience. The right psychologist will help you address the physical and/or psychological factors that are negatively affecting your performance, and they'll equip you with insight and strategies to apply to the stage.

To find licensed clinical or counseling psychologists in your area, contact your state psychological association (see apa.org) or local dance schools and companies. It's perfectly fine to call a psychologist's office and ask about their experience with dancers. Personal rapport is a crucial part of establishing a therapeutic relationship; setting up an initial visit is a good way to see if you feel comfortable working together.

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