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Fran Longstaff and Misia Gervis

This study examined how practitioners who provide sport psychology support use counseling principles and skills to develop practitioner-athlete relationships. Semistructured interviews were conducted with thirteen competent practitioners (Mean age = 41.2 ± 10.9 years old, five men, eight women). Thematic analysis revealed that the participants used a range of counseling principles to develop practitioner-athlete relationships including: the facilitative conditions, self-disclosure, counseling skills, the formation of working alliances, and awareness of the unreal relationship. The participants also described using noncounseling strategies (e.g., gaining an understanding of the athlete’s sporting environment) to build relationships with their athletes. There was considerable variation between the participants both in the training that they had received in counseling principles and skills, and how they applied them. It was concluded that counseling principles and skills play a significant role in the development of practitioner-athlete relationships.

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William Winstone and Misia Gervis

The literature in psychotherapy and sport psychology has supported the importance of self-awareness and countertransference management (Ellis, 2001; Leahy, 2001; Van Raalte & Andersen, 2000) and its applicability in all psychological settings (Hayes, 2004). This study was an audit of (n = 58) accredited UK sport psychology practitioners that explored the importance they attached to self-awareness and their behavior in practice that supported the management of these concerns. Results indicated that practitioners regarded self-insight and self-integration as important (Mdn = 4), but relied upon themselves and informal peer networks rather than regular supervision for professional support. Most practitioners never (Mdn=1) used counseling or therapy for personal support. Recommendations are made for piloting post-accreditation professional supervision in sport psychology and developing the provision of general counseling and sport psychology sessions for trainees.

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Misia Gervis, Helen Pickford and Thomas Hau

The purpose of this study was to investigate counselors’ professional understanding of the long-term psychological consequences of injury in UK football players. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 counselors who were registered to work for the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA). The interviews examined the counselors’ perception of the relationship between long-term injury and presenting mental health issues, the antecedents to those mental health issues, and recommendations for psychological intervention following injury. The critical finding was the mental health problems regularly presented to PFA counselors were often the psychological and behavioral consequences of long-term injury. Counselors recommended that early and sustained psychological intervention with long-term injured players would act as a preventative measure against future mental health issues.