What Should You Look for When Working With a Sports Psychologist?


Quick Answer

When working with a sport psychologist, identify the problem areas to determine if you need an educational or clinical sport psychologist; ask local schools and universities for a referral; and interview the candidate to assess her education, certifications and experience; advises the U.S. Tennis Association. Network with other coaches and athletes for recommendations and request specific information about how they were helped and what type of services were rendered by the sport psychology professional, suggests the American Psychological Association.

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Full Answer

Professional organizations that offer referrals to sport psychologists include the U.S. Olympic Committee sport psychology registry and the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, which certifies sport and exercise professionals, according to the American Psychological Association. Only doctorally trained exercise and sport psychology professionals who have passed a comprehensive exam and are licensed by their state may call themselves psychologists. Sports psychologists receive postdoctoral training specific to athletic emotional well-being and performance enhancement.

Ask the sport psychologist for recommendations and assess your comfort level and rapport with the person, advises the U.S. Tennis Association. If you need help with psychological skills, such as goal-setting, match strategy, visualization, positive self-talk and arousal control, interview an educational sport psychologist. For counseling associated with substance abuse, eating disorders, interpersonal relationship issues and recovery from injury, a clinical sport psychologist may be appropriate. Some practitioners are trained in both educational and clinical skills; others specialize in only one area.

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