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.
Aura Goldman and Misia Gervis
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.
Michael McDougall, Noora Ronkainen, David Richardson, Martin Littlewood, and Mark Nesti
In sport psychology, organizational culture is usually depicted as shared, consistent, and clear—the glue that holds people together so they can achieve success. There is, however, growing discontent in sport psychology with this idea of culture and extensive critiques in other academic domains that suggest this perspective is limited. Accordingly, the authors draw on narrative interviews with participants (n = 7) from different areas of sport and use Martin and Meyerson’s three perspective (integration, differentiation, and fragmentation) approach to culture alongside thematic analysis to reconstruct three “ideal cases” that exemplify each perspective. The findings emphasize a different pattern of meaning in each actors’ narrative and suggest the need to develop a broader, more inclusive concept of culture, so as not to minimize or dismiss cultural content that is not obviously shared, clear, or created by leadership; a course of action that can enhance both research and practice in the area.
Kendra Nelson Ferguson, Craig Hall, and Alison Divine
The study aimed to determine whether athletes who practice biofeedback are able to self-regulate by reaching resonance frequency and gaining physiological control quicker than if practice time integrates imagery or a rest period. Intervention effectiveness (e.g., intervention length, time spent training) was also explored. Twenty-seven university athletes were assigned to one of three groups: (a) biofeedback (i.e., continuous training), (b) biofeedback/imagery (i.e., interspersed with imagery), and (c) biofeedback/rest (i.e., interspersed with a rest period). Five biofeedback sessions training respiration rate, heart rate variability, and skin conductance were conducted. A repeated-measure analysis of variance showed a significant interaction between groups over time (p ≤ .05) for respiration rate, heart rate variability, and skin conductance, indicating that resonance frequency and physiological control was regained following imagery or a rest period. Postmanipulation check data found intervention length and training time to be sufficient. Combining imagery with biofeedback may optimize management of psychophysiological processes.
Alisia G.T.T. Tran
With the aim of supporting anxiety screening of student-athletes, this study examined the psychometric performance of the GAD-7 and GAD-2 for assessing anxiety and other clinical mental health concerns (depression, past-year and recent suicidality) in student-athletes. Data from intercollegiate varsity athletes (N = 7,584) were drawn from the Healthy Minds Study. Reliability estimates were good in the sample. Area under the curve values were excellent for anxiety and fair to good for depression and suicidality. Across all clinical indicators, a cutoff of 6 (GAD-7) and 2 (GAD-2), respectively, yielded the most balanced sensitivity and specificity rates. Both measures positively correlated with functional impairment, academic impact, and perceived mental health and negatively correlated with positive mental health. Overall, results supported the reliability, accuracy, and construct validity of the GAD-7 and GAD-2 in a national student-athlete sample. Discussion focuses on clinical implications and practical usage of the GAD-7 and GAD-2 with student-athletes.
Noora J. Ronkainen, Tatiana V. Ryba, and Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson
Sport provides many youth participants with a central life project, and yet very few eventually fulfill their athletic dreams, which may lead them to disengage from sport entirely. Many studies have explored the processes of athletic retirement, but little is known about how youth athletes actually reconstruct their relationship with sport and embodiment postretirement. The authors explored these issues in the story of “Pilvi,” a Finnish alpine skier who disengaged from sport in her late adolescence. Employing an existential-phenomenological approach, they conducted six low-structured interviews with Pilvi, combined with visual methods, and identified key themes relating to the body, space, culture, and time. Their findings highlight the difficulty of building a new relationship with sport and the often restrictive cultural horizons of sport and exercise culture that limit the “possible selves.” The authors discuss the significant implications for applied practitioners helping youth athletes and effectively supporting them in leaving their sport.