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Robert Schinke and Zella E. Moore

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.

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Philomena B. Ikulayo and Johnson A. Semidara

This article discusses unorthodox sport psychology practices typical with Nigerian athletes, which differ from Western mainstream practice models. These practices are specific Nigerian cultural approaches to sport psychology and are based on two broad types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The intrinsic aspects include prayers, chanting of songs, verbalization of incantations, psyching verses, and juju and spirits in motivational processes. The extrinsic strategies include praise singing, audience verbalization, drumming effects, persistent silent audiences’ effects, and presence of important persons as spectators or part of the audience. The article concludes with the hope that some of these unique practice strategies will be further researched and will be viable for adoption by athletes in other nations of the world who believe in their power so that multicultural practices can help advance the field of sport psychology.

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Gangyan Si, Yanping Duan, Hin Yue Li, and Xiaobo Jiang

This article, via discussing various psychological manifestations among Chinese elite athletes, illustrates sociocultural “meridians” in Chinese elite sports including (a) “Whole-Nation system,” (b) Chinese culture, and (c) their interaction. We propose that the sociocultural characteristics be integrated in athletes’ psychological training and further discuss the aspects of (a) cultural inheritance and (b) traditional beliefs, including “harmony with differences,” “doing the best and following the fate,” “Ah Q spirit,” “all are Buddha,” and the balance between Confucianism and Taoism. We suggest that the ultimate goal of sport psychologists is to facilitate the athlete’s overall development, with such a maturing process only achieved by integrating the above factors into athletes’ sociocultural contexts.

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Donald R. Marks

Despite valuable research regarding multicultural encounters in sport psychology settings, the mechanisms by which culture operates, including the ways that it is transmitted and learned, and the specific processes though which it exerts influence upon behavior, remain poorly understood. Research also has not addressed how a dimension of experience that is so fundamental could remain so transparent and reside so consistently outside the awareness of researchers, clinicians, and clients. Recent contributions to cultural psychology using an interactivist model provide a theoretical perspective through which clinical sport psychologists could conceptualize these challenging issues and address the complex behaviors observed in cross-cultural contexts. Interactivism offers a framework for investigating the internally inconsistent “polyphonic,” or multivoiced, nature of the self. In doing so, it highlights the need for investigative methods that can account for frequent discrepancies between implicit attitudes and observed behaviors, on one hand, and explicit attitudes and behaviors as endorsed on self-report measures, on the other.

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William D. Parham

The ascendance of cultural sport psychology as a concentrated focus of academic inquiry is timely, and emergent investigations therein represent welcome areas of scholarship. The invitation embedded in this forthcoming discussion to sport psychology researchers and practitioners to stretch beyond their comfort zones is being extended with a request to consider pursuing sport psychology research and practice with a “more of thee and less of me” mindset. The North Star goals articulated herein are to stimulate avant-garde and imaginative thinking by expanding the concepts of reflective practice and reflexivity, thereby creating a portal through which to see how perceived stumbling blocks to overcoming traditional approaches to the study of sport psychology can be transformed into stepping stones. Six premises provide the context within which this discussion is presented. Collectively, these premises support and raise caution about the scientific method and suggest that the time has come to rethink commonly held beliefs about color-blindness, melting pot formulations, and alleged-to-be-absent historical and contemporary cultural influences on in-the-moment interpersonal interactions. A context-sensitive across-cultures communication model is offered as a way of synthesizing the premises and creating a portal through which to enter into new domains of investigative inquiry. Implications for the future of sport psychology relative to research, practice, training, and consultation will be offered for consideration.

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Ken Hodge, Lee-Ann Sharp, and Justin Ihirangi Heke

Sport psychology consulting with athletes who are from an indigenous ethnic group presents some challenges and opportunities that do not typically need to be considered when consulting with nonindigenous athletes. Māori 1 are the indigenous ethnic group of New Zealand. To work as a sport psychology consultant with Māori athletes and indeed any indigenous athletes (e.g., Tahitian, First Nation Canadian Indian) it is important for the sport psychologist to have an understanding of Te Ao o Nga Tāngata Whenua (indigenous worldview) and tīkanga Tāngata Whenua (indigenous cultural practices; Hanrahan, 2004; Schinke & Hanrahan, 2009; Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999). Both research and practice in the social sciences regarding Māori people seek to use a Kaupapa Māori (Māori research and practice platform) approach. Kaupapa Māori attempts to ensure that cultural sensitivity is infused from the conceptualization of an intervention (e.g., psychological skills training, psychological intervention) through to the design, delivery, evaluation, final analysis, and presentation of the intervention or research project. A Kaupapa Māori approach to sport psychology consulting attempts to ensure that key Māori aspirations are honored and celebrated, as many Māori do not wish to follow a non-Māori ideology that depersonalizes the whānau (family) perspective and seeks individuality in its place (Durie, 1998a; Mead, 2003). Therefore, an effective sport psychology consulting program for an athlete who lives her or his life from a Te Ao Māori (Māori worldview) and tīkanga Māori (Māori cultural practices) perspective needs to be constructed as a Māori-for-Māori intervention based within a Kaupapa Māori framework.

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Stephanie J. Hanrahan

People who live in the villas (i.e., slums) of Buenos Aires are confronted with poverty, poor and dangerous living conditions, and discrimination. Ten weeks were spent in the villas delivering a program designed to enhance life satisfaction and self-worth through games and the development of mental skills. The purpose of this paper is not to report on the content or the effectiveness of the program, but rather to explore the variables within Argentina and the villas as well as my own cultural biases that may have influenced the delivery of a psychological intervention program. Argentine factors include a high prevalence of psychologists and a psychoanalytic focus. Characteristics of the villas include environmental factors (e.g., transportation issues, sanitation), logistical issues (e.g., venues, access to writing implements), and psychological matters (e.g., hopelessness, different perceptions of confidence). Practitioner concerns included limited familiarity with life in the villas and having values that might be different from those of the participants. The discussion includes recommendations for others who are considering working in similar cultural and contextual situations.

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John Mahoney and Stephanie J. Hanrahan

The purpose of this study was to research the experiences of four injured athletes during their rehabilitation from ACL injuries and to examine the potential usefulness of an adapted ACT intervention in addressing individuals’ adherence to rehabilitation protocols and their general psychological well-being. We investigated the usefulness of a brief, 4-session ACT program adapted for educational purposes and presented data as case studies. The case studies suggested that (a) the injured athletes experienced a multitude of private events immediately following injury, throughout their recovery, and when approaching a full return to sport; (b) the injured athletes typically avoided these private events and engaged in emotion-driven behaviors; (c) an adapted ACT approach for educational purposes could be useful on at least a basic level to help injured athletes accept private events, commit to rehabilitation behaviors, and have some certainty about returning to sport; and (d) more could be done to address the needs of injured athletes beyond the structure of our 4-session educational intervention. We concluded that the ACT-based intervention, to a certain extent, educated injured athletes about how to meet the challenges of their recoveries and how to commit to their rehabilitations, as well as to exhibit behaviors that would potentially permit their successful reentries to sport.