Ethical Challenges for Psychological Consultations in Intercollegiate Athletics

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology

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Edward F. EtzelWest Virginia University

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Jack C. Watson IIWest Virginia University

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Clinical sport psychology consultation in the fast-paced and high-stakes world of intercollegiate athletics provides the clinician with a challenging set of experiences. The culture of intercollegiate athletics and the demands of academics and intensive training create an undercurrent that psychologists must factor into their work with student-athlete clients. One must be well trained so as to best meet the complex, growing, mental health needs of older adolescents and young adult college students whose lives are also impacted by the normal developmental tasks of people of this age. Accordingly, to be effective, clinicians working in this setting must be well aware of the numerous unique ethical challenges that have the potential to impact their practice. Such ethical challenges may stem from issues dealing with the athlete, coach, athletic department personnel, compliance with NCAA rules and regulations, or legal issues surrounding this setting. It is the purpose of this paper to clarify several of these possible ethical challenges.

The authors are with the School of Physical Education at West Virginia University in Morgantown. Dr. Etzel is also a psychologist with the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. E-mail: edward.etzel@mail.wvu.edu.

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