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.
William Winstone and Misia Gervis
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.
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.
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.
Misia Gervis, Helen Pickford, Hanna Nygârd, and Aura Goldman
Injuries, and their psychological and maladaptive behavioral consequences, are an inevitable by-product of sport participation. This study sought to investigate the prevalence of maladaptive behaviors and psychological corollaries of long-term injury in order to understand if these are universal experiences of long-term injured athletes. Competitive athletes (n = 187; average time spent injured =43 weeks), across a range of sports completed an online questionnaire developed to investigate the psychological and behavioral consequences of long-term injury. Results indicated that negative symptoms after injury were a universal experience and are the “normal” response to injury, not the “exception.” The most prevalent psychological consequences were rumination (97.9%), boredom (94.7%), and fear of reinjury (93.6%). Furthermore, indicators of suicidal ideation were reported by more than 50% of participants. Factor analysis revealed a six-factor model: (a) self-sabotaging behavior, (b) daily functioning, (c) addictive behavior, (d) clinical issues, (e) fixation on injury, and (f) compromised athletic identity. All factors significantly correlated with debilitating impact. Thus, this study calls for a change to the support of long-term injured athletes to include routine psychological care.