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Daniel Birrer

A rigorous training schedule with insufficient recovery can lead to nonfunctional overreaching (NFOR) or overtraining syndrome (OTS). Research has suggested the multifactorial etiology of these phenomena. Stressors that contribute to and are symptoms and consequences of NFOR and OTS and adjustment disorder are almost identical. In this case study of an elite rower, the author illustrates an intervention approach that can be taken when overtraining is viewed as a sport-specific form of adjustment disorder. The intervention involved treatment that improved the athlete’s awareness of his basic biopsychosocial processes, developed sources of self-worth beyond athletic performance, and challenged his 1-dimensional athletic identity. The intervention included cognitive-behavioral therapy methods (e.g., autogenic training) and mindfulness- and acceptance-based interventions to enhance the athlete’s psychological flexibility. Mood monitoring was used as a diagnostic and evaluative instrument. Intervention effectiveness was evaluated through an in-depth interview with the athlete. The consulting sport psychologist also engaged in reflection about treatment effectiveness and predominant challenges. Challenging the athlete and clarifying his personal values were judged to be very important. Evaluation suggested that viewing NFOR and OTS as forms of adjustment disorder may help us recognize the multifaceted nature of an athlete’s maladjusted state and widen treatment options.