Jo Hensel
Jo Hensel

Invited Paper: Can a Rational Emotive Behaviour intervention reduce performance anxiety and enhance the psychological wellbeing of conservatoire music students?

Time: 15.50 to 16.10 GMT (10 minutes joint Q&As with Paul Young from 16.10 to 16.20 GMT)
Breakout room: 16.20 to 16.45 GMT
Invited speaker: Jo Hensel, PhD Candidate, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, an Associate of Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s Coaching Faculty, Guildhall Ignite, UK

The efficacy of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) within clinical settings is well researched (David et al., 2017). Although research into the use of REBT in performance settings is increasing, most of it has taken place within sport (Jordana et al., 2020). This current project builds on research that found irrational beliefs and unhealthy negative emotions to be prevalent amongst conservatoire music students at a top London conservatoire (Hensel et al., 2023). Although a full analysis of the data has yet to be completed, this paper will present and discuss early results and emerging findings.


David, D., Cotet, C., Matu, S., Mogoase, C., & Stefan, S. (2018). 50 years of rational‐emotive and cognitive‐behavioral therapy: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Journal of clinical psychology, 74(3), 304-318.

Hensel, J., Palmer, S., & Wise, K. (2023). The Conservatoire Coach’s Casebook Notes: a thematic analysis. International Journal of Coaching Psychology, 4, 4, 1-13.

As a musician with wide experience in Arts Education, a British Psychological Society accredited degree in psychology and an ILM Level 7 Diploma in Executive Coaching, Jo has been coaching professionally for a decade. She is accredited at Master Practitioner level with the European Mentoring and Coaching Council and combines her love of coaching, psychology, and the Arts, to work with people to bridge the gap between potential and performance. Jo has extensive experience of 1:1 and group work in schools, universities, prisons, charities and many other community and corporate settings throughout the UK, Europe and beyond.

As a horn player, Jo was invited to become a member of the world-renowned chamber orchestra, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, in 1998. She continues to perform, tour and record with the orchestra and plays an active role in its learning and participation programme.

As an Associate of Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s Coaching Faculty, Guildhall Ignite, Jo trains coaches, and works with both internal and external clients to enable them to build resilience and performance confidence. In September 2021, Jo became Guildhall’s first “Performance Confidence Associate”. Within this role, she has designed and delivers The Resilient Musician course to first year music students as they begin their conservatoire studies, and a Rational Emotive Behavioural coaching-based Performance Confidence Course to students who are on the cusp of their professional careers.

Jo is currently undertaking PhD research, looking at whether a Rational Emotive Behavioural Coaching-based intervention can reduce performance anxiety and increase psychological wellbeing in conservatoire music students.