Christopher M. Carr
This paper describes one psychologist’s professional journey providing clinical sport psychological services to student athletes, from training to first position, and on to current roles and responsibilities. Obstacles in providing psychological care to student-athletes in the intercollegiate setting are highlighted and an approach to overcoming these obstacles is articulated. Most importantly, this paper highlights the consequences of both interdisciplinary conflict within sport psychology and poorly trained professionals. The importance of ongoing professional development for both the individual practitioner and the field of sport psychology as a whole is thoroughly presented and discussed.
Acting as a liaison between a university’s counseling and psychological services and intercollegiate athletics department is an emerging alternative career path in professional psychology. This article details how a psychologist-sport psychologist liaison role can provide both psychological counseling and sport psychology consulting in a university setting. In addition, the author outlines the mission and goals of such a position, the departments within which this work is carried out, how psychology and applied sport psychology services are conceptualized and integrated, and the responsibilities and service duties of a counseling psychologist and sport psychologist to university student-athletes, coaches, and staff. It is hoped that illustrating this relationship between university counseling and psychological services and athletic departments will demonstrate how campus resources can be employed to assist student-athletes with performance enhancement, personal enrichment, and life skills development. In addition, the author offers examples of ways that athletic coaching, administration, and program development can be enhanced through cultivation of positive relationships between university counseling and psychological services, and intercollegiate athletic departments.
In recent years, Division I athletics programs have hired counseling or clinical psychologists as a resource for student-athletes who need assistance with clinical issues, personal difficulties, and performance issues. This article documents the evolution of this type of position at Virginia Tech and includes a discussion of the goals of the clinical sport psychologist position, an overview of the daily activities the position entails, and a discussion of the issues that comprise the assessment, conceptualization, and treatment of student-athlete concerns. Models for conceptualizing and delivering sport psychology interventions are also discussed. Evidence indicates that having access to a mental health professional familiar with the issues facing college athletes can be instrumental in helping many of these student-athletes achieve success in the university setting.
Ronald B. Chamberlain
The author shares his experiences as a sport psychologist working for the Athletic Department at Brigham Young University. He describes both his educational background and the training experiences that prepared him for a career as a psychologist in a collegiate athletics department. The development and evolution of the sport psychologist role at Brigham Young University is also described, and a model for conceptualizing sport psychology with student-athletes is provided. The methods for delivering psychological services to student-athletes are detailed, and a typical daily, weekly, and semester schedule for a sport psychologist is presented. The author concludes by sharing what he finds challenging about working as a sport psychologist in a collegiate environment and what he has found most enjoyable about this career alternative for professional psychologists.
Patricia Marten DiBartolo, Linda Lin, Simone Montoya, Heather Neal, and Carey Shaffer
This study reports the psychometric development of a measure to assess individual differences in exercise motivations using a functionalist strategy (Snyder & Cantor, 1997). Factor analyses revealed two subscales for the newly developed Function of Exercise Scale (FES): Weight and Appearance (WA), and Health and Enjoyment (HE). FES-HE scores correlated with better psychological well-being and predicted prospectively monitored as well as concurrently and longitudinally assessed exercise behavior. FES-HE scores also correlated with lower pulse, systolic blood pressure, and salivary cortisol readings, indicating its association with better physical health. In contrast, FES-WA scores correlated with greater depressive and eating disorder symptoms, as well as lower self-esteem, and predicted the later emergence of eating disorder, but not depressive, symptoms. FES-WA scores failed to show a relationship with measures of physical well-being, including exercise engagement and vital sign data. Overall, the FES appears to hold promise as a succinct and psychometrically sound heuristic for meaningfully relating exercise motivations to important indices of both physical and psychological well-being.
Jessica M. Lutkenhouse
The present case study illustrates the treatment of a 19-year-old female lacrosse player, classified as experiencing Performance Dysfunction (Pdy) by the Multilevel Classification System for Sport Psychology (MCS-SP). The self-referred collegiate athlete was treated using the manualized Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) protocol (Gardner & Moore, 2004a, 2007). The intervention consisted of eight individual sessions and several follow-up contacts via e-mail. The majority of the sessions addressed clinically related and sport-related concerns, including difficulties in emotion regulation and problematic interpersonal relationships. Based on self-report, coach report, and one outcome assessment measure, the psychological intervention resulted in enhanced overall behavioral functioning and enhanced athletic performance. This case study suggests that following careful case formulation based on appropriate assessment and interview data, the MAC intervention successfully targeted the clearly defined psychological processes underlying the athlete’s performance concerns and personal obstacles, thus resulting in enhanced well-being and athletic performance improvements.
Charles A. Maher
This article reflects a response to the case of a freshman student-athlete lacrosse player who was in the process of transitioning into a Division I environment. Within the context of the case response, guidelines were provided for assessment of the student-athlete at four separate, yet interrelated levels of psychological development. These levels were: as a person; as a student-athlete who exists in a high-risk environment; as a teammate; and as a performer in the sport of lacrosse. Relatedly, it was suggested how the strengths and needs of this individual could be assessed and how resulting needs assessment information could be used in the design of an individual plan for the student-athlete. As such, it was suggested that the individual plan would most likely center on helping the individual to become increasingly aware of herself as a person and performer, to offer guidance in adhering to her physical rehabilitation, and to develop a routine for her daily preparation and for monitoring her practice and game performances. The case response concludes with a description of a framework for determining the student-athlete’s readiness for engaging in the plan and its activities.
This response to a case study focuses on how I would approach the development of an intervention program for Jenny. Such a program begins with extensive psychological and physical assessments. The psychological assessment would be garnered primarily through observation of Jenny at practice and in games, extensive interviewing of the athlete, and, with her permission, interviewing her coaches and parents. The physical assessment would involve testing of Jenny’s injured knee as well as a complete conditioning evaluation. The key issues that emerged as part of the conceptualization of Jenny’s Performance Dysfunction include: (a) family issues, including the internalizations of a perfectionistic father and a needy mother; (b) unresolved feelings related to her parents’ divorce; and (c) emotional immaturity that expresses itself in fear of failure, inappropriate emotions, and avoidance from conflict. The intervention would take a multimodal approach that involves: (a) insight; (b) emotional exploration; (c) behavioral change; and (d) mental skills. The program would conclude with a post-intervention assessment that would be comprised of objective evaluation of Jenny’s physical condition, coach feedback about Jenny’s behavior, and, finally, Jenny’s own assessment of changes that have occurred due to the intervention.