Sport Psychology Consultants’ Reflections on the Role of Humor: “It’s Like Having Another Skill in Your Arsenal”

in The Sport Psychologist
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Previous research demonstrates that sport psychology consultants use humor to facilitate working alliances, reinforce client knowledge, and create healthy learning environments. The current study sought to gain further insights into consultants’ reflections on the role of humor, humor styles, purposes for humor, and experiences of humor use. Forty-eight sport psychology consultants completed an online survey comprising open-ended questions. Thematic analysis revealed four themes: “It’s the way I tell ’em,” “It’s the way I don’t tell ’em,” “This is why I tell ’em,” and learning to use humor in consultancy. Participants used 2 styles of humor (deadpan and self-deprecating), each with the goal of facilitating the working alliance. Although not all participants used humor during consultancy, its incorporation might render the working alliance and real relationship as resources in ways (e.g., a “barometer” that predicts consultancy outcomes) previously not considered in applied sport psychology.

Pack is with Sport, Health, and Exercise, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, United Kingdom. Arvinen-Barrow is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI. Winter and Hemmings are with Sport, Health, and Science, St. Marys University, London, United Kingdom.

Pack (s.pack@herts.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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