This article presents a reflective case study, from the perspective of a trainee sport and exercise psychologist, of an applied consultancy experience with a 14-year-old gymnast. The case study highlights a number of applied challenges such as working with a client in an unfamiliar sport, questioning who the client is throughout the consultancy process, adopting a philosophy of practice different from the expectations of the parents, and further difficulties when including parents in the consultancy process. The case study also highlights how challenges to a practitioner’s philosophy of practice can be deeply uncomfortable and lead the practitioner to question his or her approach to service delivery. Although the intervention only lasted 3 sessions, there are a number of observations and lessons to be learned from an applied perspective, such as being aware of countertransference when building relationships with a client and understanding how the dynamics of the consultancy process might change when involving parents.
Pressure to Provide a Solution: One-to-One Support With an Elite Junior Gymnast
“A Blank Slate”: Preparing for Tokyo 2021 During COVID-19
Nick Wadsworth and Adam Hargreaves
This article presents a case study of an applied consultancy experience with WL, an Olympic athlete preparing for Tokyo 2021. WL sought psychological support after decreases in performance and well-being forced them to consider their future as an athlete. COVID-19 and the lockdown of the United Kingdom were highly influential to the consultancy process, providing WL with the opportunity to explore their identity in the absence of sport. WL framed their emergence from the lockdown as a “Blank Slate,” which was a critical moment allowing them to “find themselves on and off the mat.” The sport psychologist’s existential philosophy is presented and discussed in detail. Furthermore, reflections are provided by WL’s strength and conditioning coach about the referral process and by WL themself about the efficacy of the interventions. The importance of supporting both the person and the performer when working with aspiring Olympic athletes is also discussed.
One-to-One Support With a Professional Rugby League Player: A Case for Referral?
Nick Wadsworth, Ben Paszkowec, and Martin Eubank
This article presents a reflective case study of an applied consultancy experience with a 22-year-old professional rugby league player. The primary aim of the intervention was to provide the client a confidential space where he could discuss his experiences in and outside of a sporting context while also exploring and challenging his core values and beliefs. The consultancy process lasted for 12 mo, leading to the development of a strong relationship. During this time, the client experienced multiple critical moments such as deselection from the first-team squad and contract negotiations, which at times led to reductions in his well-being and forced the trainee sport and exercise psychologist to consider his scope of practice in relation to mental health and depression. Reflections are provided that explore the possibility of referral during these moments. The case study also provides insight into the trainee sport and exercise psychologist’s philosophy of practice and how influential this can be when considering referral of a client. The importance of supervisor support during uncertain moments is highlighted, and the case study concludes with reflections from the client, trainee practitioner, and peer supervisor regarding the efficacy of the intervention and the decision not to refer.
Stories of Critical Moments Contributing to the Development of Applied Sport Psychology Practitioners
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.
Critical Pause: Athletes’ Stories of Lockdown During COVID-19
Gabriella Whitcomb-Khan, Nick Wadsworth, Kristin McGinty-Minister, Stewart Bicker, Laura Swettenham, and David Tod
This study explored the experiences of elite athletes during the initial stages of lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The eight recruited participants (three females, five males) were asked to tell a story of their lockdown experience. Narrative analysis was used to explore the athletes’ stories. The athletes’ narrative is best represented in four distinct sections: (a) threat to goals, (b) ongoing consequences, (c) overcoming COVID-19, and (d) adapting to COVID-19. Four narrative themes were also coconstructed from the athletes’ stories: (a) factors athletes found challenging, (b) loss, (c) strategies that benefitted athletes psychologically, and (d) silver linings. Combined, these findings suggest that the initial stages of lockdown are best described as a critical pause. The authors present applied implications for athletes and sport psychology practitioners. The authors also recommend that future research investigate the longitudinal effect of prolonged lockdown on athletes’ lives and a potential return to sport.