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Overcoming performance anxiety, building ego the name of the game for Naperville counselor – Chicago Tribune

Business: PsychEdge

Address: Naperville

Phone/website: 630-219-0339; www.psychedge.club

Owner: Sarah Greene-Falk, 43, of Naperville

Years in business? 2

What does your business do? “It provides counseling and coaching via telehealth. The coaching is typically performance enhancement. Sport and performance psychology,” Greene-Falk said

Is it more than sports? “Correct. That’s why it’s sport and performance. … I may get athletes, musicians, business people. The three primaries people come to me for are performance anxiety, confidence – sometimes they call it mental toughness – and then resilience.”

Who suffers from performance anxiety? “Sometimes (it hits) some singers especially. And sometimes (those) playing musical instruments. Sometimes they’re in competitions or trying out. Athletes trying to be recruited. Some are going for national cuts or Olympic cuts.”

How do you help them? “I try to see what are the specific areas or situations they are struggling with. … I want to understand from their perspective. Part of it is putting myself in their shoes and trying to see things from their point of view. It’s what all good counselors do. … It’s recognizing their pitfalls and building on their strengths.

“We can choose to focus our intention on things. (Suppose) I’m noticing I’m having negative self-talk. (I need to) intentionally tell myself something positive that I know is true. That’s a big key. They have to believe it.”

And the counseling? “Counseling is more focused on the processing. It’s not that they’re not going to get the skills. This is more processing, slower paced. … I’m a licensed clinical professional counselor. I’m licensed in Illinois and Tennessee.”

Are you from Tennessee? “No, but that was my first job. I did adventure-based counseling in the outskirts of Knoxville. I was there when (University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach) Pat Summitt was there.”

Why did you start this business? “I always wanted to do something in sports. I was a swimmer. I also played softball and did girls show choir. … I swam year around and competed since I was 7. … I went to Buffalo Grove High School.”

Can you give an example of how you helped an athlete? “Female soccer (player), national level, has high anxiety, performance anxiety to the point where it’s starting to affect her breathing during a game. … We worked on breathing techniques. She practiced them each night before she went to bed and intermittently in her day. …Then it’s an awareness. The ability to know you have control of your heart rate and your blood pressure builds confidence. … She was doing that. When we get that under control, our brain will open. … ‘I’ve trained for this. I deserve to be here.’ … From there, she used emotional intelligence and growth mindset.”

In terms of mental toughness, Michael Jordan and Tom Brady come to mind. What are your thoughts about them? “Both of them have inflated egos. I encourage my people, who often are humble, to have inflated egos. Tell yourself in your head, ‘I’m a bad ass.’ But you’re not going around telling people you are a bad ass. You show them.

“In my world, there is no such thing as can’t. Can’t means won’t. Won’t be afraid, but that’s OK. We can address that. That’s a big thing.”

What else do you do? “I subcontract for Grow Therapy (in Naperville). … I started with Grow Therapy in August of 2020. There are eight of us now. They started in 2013. … They wanted me to join them.”

How did the pandemic affect your business? “(It was) the most performance anxiety I have ever seen.”

What’s your favorite part of the job? “I like that it’s mine. It’s my schedule. I create a work-life balance.”

Any negatives? “It’s hard when I see someone trying hard and things don’t work out the way they want them to.”

What would you tell Candace Parker after she and the Sky fell short in their encore championship bid? “Reflect back on what you did when you with the Lady Vols. Obviously, the dynamics are different. But what were some of the things that made you so amazing? Use those as fuel.”

And to Justin Fields and the Bears on Sunday night up in Green Bay? “It’s just like the first game. … It shouldn’t matter that is the Packers. … What matters is that you trained for this, you are ready for this.”

What challenges do you face? “People who don’t understand the skills fully and how they work. They make assumptions it’s not going to work for them.”

What’s your advice for someone starting a business? “If you don’t have the financial support, start slowly doing it on the side.”

If you know of a business you’d like to see profiled in Down to Business, contact Steve Metsch at [email protected].

Steve Metsch is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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