ACT FOR ACTORS

Treatment for Audition and Performance Anxiety

ACT for Actors is an 8-week program developed by Dr. Michael Jacobs in order to help musical theater performers with audition anxiety. ACT for Actors is based on the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy model which has been proven to effectively treat anxiety disorders. The model combines basics tenets of the ACT model, including value-driven behavior, encouraging the acceptance of emotions, and gaining distance from one's thoughts with specific exercises tailored to the unique experiences of performing artists.

​Dr. Jacobs focused his doctoral dissertation research at Hofstra University on ACT for Actors. His dissertation study, which built upon the pilot trial conducted for his Thesis project, provided encouraging results in the group of anxious professional musical theater performers. The participants, all professional musical theater performers, found the skills they learned to be helpful and effective overall at improving their management of anxiety symptoms at auditions. ​Dr. Jacobs presented the results of the pilot study at the American Psychological Association 2018 Conference in San Francisco.

This model was developed initially as a group-based treatment model and is now available at the Performance Institute for CBT as individual therapy, virtually, or with limited availability as a group model. For more information on this targeted treatment, please contact us.

Image by Florian Wehde
 

Mitchel K., Professional Actor

"For years I struggled with audition anxiety, particularly in musical theatre settings. I was frustrated with the advice I would receive: learn to love auditions, know that the people behind the table want you to succeed, pretend they’re loving everything you do. I felt like I was being asked to ignore or manipulate my thoughts in ways that seemed phony and, frankly, unrealistic.  I also knew that to act well in those auditions I had to be emotionally transparent and responsive to what was actually happening in the moment. The “mind games” I was being told to employ involved a form of self-deception—of leaving the room and closing myself off to the present moment—and they simply weren’t helping.


Then I had the good fortune to participate in a group therapy program with Michael Jacobs. He introduced me to an approach called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which flipped this way of thinking on its head. Michael facilitated a course of treatment that involved interesting readings, refreshing discussions, simple meditations, and helpful exercises that mimicked the day-to-day realities of auditioning and performing. Instead of trying to change my emotions or convince myself of what others were thinking, I learned to become aware and tolerant of my thoughts and feelings without letting them overwhelm me. I learned that I could give an excellent audition even when I felt nervous or had that jittery feeling all over my body. This made the prospect of auditioning seem less daunting and helped me let go of the avoidance strategies I had acquired over the years. What’s more, as I became tolerant of my anxiety and it became less of a hindrance to my success, the anxiety itself began to lessen."