The Performance Triangle

Recently I was working on outlining some content for TrainerMD as they continue to grow as a company and offer new mental health content to their clients. I was sitting there assessing how I often approach the treatment of my clients regardless of clinical need. I always start out by assessing their goals and talk about how I look at it as a triangle of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If you change one side the others will change accordingly as they play off of each other. I probably learned about the concept in grad school, and just developed it further of the course of my career. Now I am just putting a name to this concept – The Performance Triangle.


As I stated, the Performance Triangle provides a framework to understand and improves anyone’s mental health. Typical clients can use it to manage their everyday mental health. Students can use it to understand and push through their academic challenges. Finally, athletes can use it as part of their training, and enhance performance. The end result in each of these areas is improved mental toughness and a growth of confidence.

The Performance Triangle starts with how a person thinks. Thinking processes involve how a person assesses or interprets situations. Does their thinking get negative or self judging? Can they apply the right logic to remain motivated or focused? Can they problem solve? Essentially anything that is mental falls within this context. In order to improve performance, the goal is for the client to learn to change their thoughts to keep a positive mindset.


The second piece of the Performance Triangle focuses on the client’s feelings. Emotions can either facilitate or inhibit performance, mental toughness, and confidence. Anxiety tends to be one of the main emotions clients are impacted by. Clients need to learn understand their emotions, when they occur, and what they can do manage these different emotions.


Finally, the third piece of the Performance Triangle is the behavior client’s demonstrate in different contexts. Like the other two pieces, behaviors can either inhibit or facilitate performance. Behaviors that can impact performance can include things such as avoidance, social conflicts, and just making choices that increase the likelihood of failure. Behaviors that can facilitate performance include building routines, learning different ways to manage emotions, and finding more pro social behaviors. If a client can better understand their behavioral responses, the more performance can improve.


As I stated earlier, the key to the Performance Triangle is understanding how each part of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors continually interact and impact the other two. It is a continually evolving and active process. A psychologist can use this framework as a guide to which interventions to use or skills to teach a client that will improve his or her mental health. In time, and with practice, the client will be able to do the same independently.


Are you ready to start understanding and implanting your Performance Triangle?


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