Journey From the Heart Out: Interview about purpose with Janice Alpert, LCPC

August 30, 2021

Tune in for this heartwarming journey of a young athlete turned business woman and now psychotherapist whose unique journey led to a life serving other (and filled with purpose).

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Dealing With Anxiety and Difficult Situations

Interview with Denise Schwartz PT,IMT, C:  The Manual Touch Physical Therapy

May 23, 2018

Many of us feel anxious in situations such as at work, race day, or in everyday life. Licensed professional counselor, Holly Katz, has four great tips on how to deal with anxiety. With Holly’s blessing, I’ve shared her tips below:

1. Breathe

Have you ever gone into a stressful situation, such as having to confront someone about an issue or going into a strange place? To stop anxiety in its tracks, take a couple of deep breaths to slow the situation down. Here’s how:

  • Breathe into your abdomen, as this ensures you are using your diaphragm.
  • Inhale for 6 seconds
  • Hold for 2 seconds
  • Slowly let it out for 7 seconds

These counts are a generalization, so if they don’t feel right, do what feels good to you.

Tip: Put a BREATHE label on your water bottle for race day or on your desk to remind yourself to take a moment to breathe.

2. Act the Part or Visualize

At Holly’s seminar, one of the participants said she gets nervous when communicating with higher level executives. Another participant said he feels nervous on race day.

Tip: Choose a positive role model for these situations and take on their mannerisms/pretend to be like them.

So, now the employee visualizes herself as the executive she admires most when she has to meet with higher level executives to limit her jitters.

3. Prepare and Create a Strategy

Does public speaking make you nervous? Having difficulty sleeping the night before a big race?

Preparations can help. 
Early in my career I was afraid to teach or speak in front of an audience, as I was afraid I couldn’t answer certain questions properly. I was able to overcome these nerves by formulating a strategy and being prepared. The strategy was figuring out how to answer those questions — then I was ready to teach. I also made sure to prepare by practicing my presentation many times before the event. I also reminded myself I have done this before and my presentations are always well received.

For race day prepare like Olympic Skier, Lindsey Vonn. She visualizes the race course numerous times in her head before she heads down a mountain.

4. Create a Calming Ritual

Calming rituals are commonly used by professionals before a performance to calm their nerves. For example, have you ever noticed how a tennis player will assess the strings of their rackets before each point? Or, the other night I watched a guitarist adjust his jacket sleeves and stretch his fingers before playing.

Both the guitarist and the tennis player are performing rituals, priming their nervous system to get ready to play. This allows them to slow down and breathe as well.

Tip: A simple solution to overcome your anxiety would be to wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it when feeling stressed or anxious. This helps you get out of your head and stay present.

Try one or all of these methods to help get you through difficult situations, whether it’s race day jitters, dealing with tough coworkers, or managing uncomfortable life situations. Some methods may work better than others, and that’s okay. Whatever works for you!

Interview with Voyage Chicago

August 15, 2017

Today we’d like to introduce you to Holly Katz.

Holly, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m a former human resources executive, Northwestern MBA graduate, and was a Big 10 tennis player. I understand from personal experience the toll that anxiety and self doubt have on feeling confident and calm, and ultimately fulfilling potential.

My experience combined with a passion for helping people, led me to get a Masters and License in Professional Counseling. I began my work in this arena as a career and executive coach in my own business about 10 years ago including serving as a “go to” consultant at JPMorgan Chase and executive coach. I also worked with corporations to help professionals and teams perform at high levels.

Two years ago, I added to my portfolio, leveraging my background as a competitive athlete with expertise in sports psychology, to help clients fulfill potential in sports, music, at work, and in life.

I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to work with elite musicians, athletes, and executives at a deep level and watch them grow both in terms of performance but also in general. The father of one of my clients who is a renowned musician himself, wrote the testimonial below about my work with his son.

This past year, I continued to expand and in addition to coaching, I also work as Licensed Professional Counselor at North Shore Counseling helping clients from all walks of life from adolescent to adult manage and overcome anxiety, depression, life transitions, and grief/loss.

Here is the testimonial from Wayne Gordon, Band Director at Wood Oaks Jr High School in Northbrook, about my work with his son Matt, who is one of the top Euphonium Players (Euphonium is a bit smaller than a Tuba) in the country:

My son is a talented young musician with designs on a career in performance. He has been very successful in international solo competitions, but he also battles, as do many musicians with professional aspirations, with performance anxiety. Holly Katz has truly helped my son realize his potential! Holly has a deep understanding of the cognitive and emotional sources of anxiety and stress, and how they can be crippling to someone in a high-pressure performance situation. Holly’s one-on-one work with my son was specifically tailored to identify the sources of his anxiety and the nature of his physiological response to stress. Armed with this knowledge Holly introduced my son to research proven techniques he could practice to assist him in managing his anxiety in performance situations. Holly even made herself available by phone and email during a recent international solo competition when unproductive thoughts began to creep back into my son’s preparation. We truly feel blessed to have met Holly, and she has been instrumental in my son being able to inch closer to his dream of a career in music performance.

Wayne Gordon, Band Director
Wood Oaks Junior High School
National Board Certified Teacher
Co-Founder, All-Illinois Junior Band
Illinois State Chair, National Band Association

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I believe to be effective as both a coach and/or a counselor, one has to work through their own struggles to be effective. I’ve worked hard personally to clear out grief and loss in my life so I can be there fully for clients. In addition, my journey to where I am now has been a long and winding road through banking, human resources, career and executive consulting, HR consultant, and finally now coaching in my own business, Katz Performance Coaching, and counseling at North Shore Counseling. I’m at the point now though, where I believe I am fulfilling my true purpose in helping others feel confident, calm, and fulfilled in their lives.

Alright, what should we know about your counseling practice?
As both a coach and a counselor, I pride myself on using a warm, caring approach, client focused approach. I believe that clients heal through the relationship established in our work together.

In addition, I have a unique background because I am not only trained as a coach and counselor but also am able to leverage expertise as a consultant, human resources and recruiting executive, entrepreneur, and expert in sports psychology and career development.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
My personal warmth and ability to develop trusting relationships with the clients I serve is my biggest strength.

Shout Out: Holly Katz, sports psychology expert

Holly Katz, a Deerfield resident of more than two decades, is a sports psychology expert and high performance coach. She said she helps athletes, musicians, performers and test takers thrive under pressure. Katz and her husband Harold have two children, Lori and Jenny. We caught up with Katz at the Starbucks in Deerfield near Waukegan and Deerfield roads.

Holly, what’s the desired outcome of what you do?

I help my clients to overcome freezing and choking under pressure and help them feel confident and calm instead of anxiety and self-doubt.

Tennis anyone?

I’m a former nationally ranked tennis player. I’m more passionate about golf these days.

What did tennis teach you?

I know what it’s like to face intense pressure myself and I know the toll that anxiety and self-doubt have on limiting potential. I’m dedicated to helping people overcome these same barriers.

How are you embracing your career path?

I love it, I absolutely love it! I love working with teens, not only by helping with their pursuit of sports and the arts, but by making a difference for the rest of their lives.

Holly, what’s your shout out to the world?

I feel that compassion for one’s self is key to overcoming performance anxiety. And if compassion and kindness were obvious in the world in general, we’d all feel so much healthier, happier and connected. Compassion and kindness is key. It’s my underlying mission of what I do. It’s my purpose.

Karie Angell Luc is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

Parent Tip – How To Help Your Teen Athlete, Musician, or Exam Taker Perform at Their Peak

 Parent Tip – How To Help Your Teen Athlete, Musician, or Exam Taker Perform at Their Peak


 I have a question for all of you parents of talented athletes, musicians, performers?

What do you think kids dread the most when it comes to pursuing their sport or artistic endeavor?

  • Do you think it’s when they get cut or don’t get the part or the first seat in the orchestra?
  • Or do you think it’s when they lose?
  • Or when they make an error on the field or play a bad match?
  • Or when the coach or artistic director gets on their case?

In fact, it’s none of the above!!

A majority of my clients report to me that they most dread is the car ride home from the event.What happens in the car ride home to make my clients feel it is their least favorite thing about participating in their endeavor (sports or music)?

Frequently, parents become diagnosticians and coaches, telling their child exactly what he/she did wrong on the court, field, or concert hall.  Or worse, they give their child the silent treatment, or yell at them because they didn’t play well.

My clients tell me that these actions create fear of not wanting to disappoint their parents, the people most important to them. Or they fear they will lose their parent’s love if they don’t perform perfectly.  Fear in turn causes my clients to freeze, get tight, or choke when under pressure.  Even though parents are trying to help, they are actually created a situation where their child can’t perform at their peak.

Even worse than the fear of making a mistake, the child quits a sport they used to like because the fun is gone.Three ofevery fourparticipants in sports under the age of 14 end up quitting their sport because it’s not fun anymore.

What can you say to kids that changes this dynamic?  John O’Sullivan of Changing the Game Project recommends five magic words to say to your kids during the car ride home —“ I loved watching you play.”

Start using these words, letting your kids you loved being with them no matter how they perform and you will see improved performance and a remarkable positive difference in your relationship with your kids.  “I loved watching you play.”