Sport psychologists work with athletes from a vast array of cultural backgrounds. Numerous factors comprise the cultural composition of both the client and the practitioner, including, though not necessarily limited to, ethnicity, socioeconomic background and status, race, socialization, sexual orientation, religion, gender, and geographic location. These intersecting and often deeply ingrained personal variables can certainly impact the nature of the therapeutic relationship, intervention strategies, and intervention outcomes with athletic clientele. Yet, while other domains of professional psychology have long embraced the integration of cultural aspects, the field of sport psychology has been slow to join the dialogue or to learn from these relevant sources. Therefore, this special issue of the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology was conceptualized and constructed with the intention of opening these lines of discussion to help ensure that sport psychologists are gaining a comprehensive understanding of the athletes with whom they work, demonstrating respect for and integration of cultural constructs in the treatment room, and maintaining personal and professional self-awareness. As Co-Editors of this unique special issue, Drs. Robert Schinke and Zella Moore provide the present paper to begin this important dialogue. This paper sets the stage for six informative articles by leading professionals in their areas, including both theoretical articles and articles highlighting culturally informed direct service provision with athletes from around the world. We hope that this timely special issue leads to numerous additional questions, cutting-edge research ideas, and most importantly, an enhanced or renewed commitment from sport psychologists to integrate the concepts found within these pages, and those already found within the professional literature of mainstream psychology, into their daily work with athletes.
Robert Schinke is with the School of Human Kinetics at Laurentian University in Sudbury Ontario, Canada. Zella Moore is with the Psychology Department at Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY.