This case study examines the personal experiences of an elite athlete, coach, and sport psychology consultant (SPC) during the athlete’s preparation and performance in a recent Olympic Games. The qualitative research details how the consultancy process was affected by the athlete’s late admission of the deteriorating relationship with his coach. The concepts of closeness, commitment, complementarity, and co-orientation provided a theoretical perspective to the SPC’s interpretation of athlete performance and the interpersonal conflict that developed between athlete and coach. The basic performance demand model provided an applied perspective. The SPC’s commentary adopts a reflexive discursive style that also focuses on the SPC’s role in the consultancy process and the effectiveness of the performance demand model materials. Five important recommendations arise from the case study, and these might inform other SPCs’ future athlete–coach consultancies and interventions.
Jonathan R. Males, John H. Kerr, and Joanne Hudson
Tom Webb, Paul Gorczynski, Shakiba Oftadeh-Moghadam, and Laura Grubb
Research into the mental health of female sport match officials is scarce, despite verbal and physical abuse being commonplace. Twelve female match officials officiating male and female matches took part in semistructured interviews, investigating their experiences and understanding of their mental health. Deductive thematic analysis identified four overarching themes: male and female football environments; abuse, sexism, and homophobia in football; formal and informal support networks; and mental health knowledge and experience—accessing services. The results revealed toxic, abusive, male-dominated environments that included sexist and derogatory language, negatively affecting their mental health. The female match officials struggled to ascertain mechanisms for support and identified that the educational courses and local organizations did not provide mental health information or training, and match officials often experienced poor mental health during and after matches. Increased engagement with mental health literacy and policy change from governing bodies is required, given the unique challenges female match officials face.
Danielle C. DeLisio, E. Earlynn Lauer, Terilyn C. Shigeno, Leslee A. Fisher, and Rebecca A. Zakrajsek
Mental performance consultants in training need to be prepared to respond to the various ethical dilemmas they may encounter, including sexual misconduct. Sexual harassment (i.e., unwanted attention of a sexual nature that may create an uncomfortable environment) is a form of sexual misconduct that has increased dramatically in the general U.S. population. In this paper, the authors provide a composite narrative from the point of view of the “victim” of sexual harassment (i.e., a neophyte mental performance consultant) while consulting with a high school team. Then, the authors examine and interpret the narrative in light of four complicating factors: (a) gender identity and other demographics, (b) context, (c) training and experience, and (d) handling/reporting incidents of sexual harassment. Finally, the authors pose questions for readers related to each complication and present implications for sport psychology students and faculty.
Rory Mack, Jeff Breckon, Joanne Butt, and Ian Maynard
This study explored the use of motivational interviewing (MI) in sport contexts by experts in that approach. Specifically, the purpose was to understand which aspects of the MI approach are deemed valuable for working in sport and to begin to understand how these aspects are best applied. Nine practitioners participated in semistructured interviews, and thematic analysis identified themes related to core and subcomponents of MI (e.g., relational spirit, technical microskills, applied tools, and the MI communication styles continuum). Additional themes relate to integrating MI with other interventions, the challenges of working with athletes (e.g., mandated attendance, ambivalence about change), and unique aspects of working in sport contexts (e.g., frequency, duration, and location of contact points). The participants also outlined essential ingredients for an MI training curriculum for practitioners in sport. This counseling approach appears to have valuable relational and technical components to facilitate the building of the therapeutic alliance, enhance athlete readiness for change, and support delivery of action-oriented interventions in applied sport psychology.
Aura Goldman and Misia Gervis
Though sexism has been recognized as problematic in sport, its impact on female sport psychologists in the United Kingdom has not yet been investigated. The purpose of this research was to explore the impact of sexism and its influence on practice. Four semistructured focus groups were conducted, comprising 11 sport psychologists who worked in the United Kingdom. Thematic analysis revealed four general themes: the environment, privileging masculinity, acts of sexism, and the feminine. Participants’ discourse suggests that female sport psychologists are impacted by sexism in their workplaces. Gendered power differentials, coupled with the low status of sport psychology within sport, exacerbated the challenges faced by female sport psychologists. This study contributes to making up for the dearth of research on the impact of sexism on sport psychologists. Suggestions are made with regard to implications for practice.
Nick Wadsworth, Hayley McEwan, Moira Lafferty, Martin Eubank, and David Tod
This study explored the stories of critical moments experienced by applied sport psychology practitioners. The 13 recruited practitioners (eight male and five female) were in different stages of their development (trainee, neophyte, and experienced) and were asked to tell one story about a critical moment that significantly contributed to their development as applied practitioners. Narrative analysis was used to explore the stories of critical moments. Four distinct narrative structures were evident: Rebirth, Rags to Riches, Tragedy, and The Quest. There was one consistent narrative feature that supported these plots: Critical moments contribute toward an alignment between a practitioner’s beliefs and behavior, which supports the development of a congruent philosophy of practice and the environment they choose to work within. The authors recommend future research, such as the use of narrative analysis, to explore alternative narrative structures and the investigation of successful and unsuccessful consultancy experiences.
This case report described the use of behavioral activation when a former Olympic athlete developed depression after career termination. Four sessions were conducted, one session each week, followed by a boost session 1 month later. In Session 1, the former Olympic athlete displayed mild-to-moderate depression with anxiety and a low quality of life (Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale = 21; Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 Scale = 17; Brunnsviken Brief Quality of Life Scale = 44). By Session 3, the Olympic athlete no longer met the diagnostic criteria for clinical depression or anxiety (Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale = 2; Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 Scale = 7) and the quality of life was improved (Brunnsviken Brief Quality of Life Scale = 60). Follow-up assessments 1-year posttreatment confirmed that the former Olympic athlete continued to improve (Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale = 0; Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 Scale = 0; Brunnsviken Brief Quality of Life Scale = 96). This case report discusses the benefits of proactive support to elite athletes and the use of established clinical psychological treatments, for example, behavioral activation, when athletes develop health-related conditions.