Heersink, Nicole - Sport Psychologist

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[edit] Sports Psychologist (Nicole Heersink)

[edit] General overview

Sports psychologists educate others on the importance of not only physical strength and ability, but mental strength and resilience as well. They are responsible for assisting those involved with sports (either individuals, teams, coaches or referees) with their mental ability and health. They provide counselling to help increase motivation and enhance performance, and can work in any number of areas from educational settings to professional sports teams. They are specialized psychological counselors who apply a multidimensional approach to a number of mental issues athletes may be dealing with in order to improve their overall well-being (Prospects, 2014). Their extensive educational background and training in sports, motivation management, cognitive-behavioural therapy and athletics helps to provide clients with a range of strategies to help reduce stress and thus improve ability and performance (Sugarman, 2011; APA, 2014). “The people who win gold medals are not those without mistakes but those who are best at handling mistakes.” -Charlie Brown, PhD, USA Canoe & Kayak Whitewater Team Psychologist (APA, 2014).

[edit] Job duties and responsibilities

Sports psychologists are responsible for assisting athletes with any psychological issues they may be dealing with in order to improve mental ability. They are responsible for meeting with clients in order to assess individual needs, and work with them one-on-one or at a team level in order to work through psychological problems. They provide counselling, coping strategies and performance-enhancing techniques. They are responsible for their client’s mental well-being, and should be aware of any issues they are dealing with in order to provide the best care. They help clients overcome problems that can impede their performance in order to maximize physical prowess, from motivation management to coping strategies for loss or traumatic experiences (AGCAS, 2014). They help clients learn to overcome anxiety which may affect their confidence, learn to accept critique, build confidence, control tempers, and learn how to resolve conflict. Job duties involve providing individual counselling as well as team building workshops, system interventions with coaches or families, and strategies for developing interpersonal skills (APA, 2014).

There are 3 main streams of sports psychology, among which the individual job requirements vary greatly. 1) Applied: Teaching skills to enhance mental strength and athletic performance for a team or individual. 2) Clinical: Combining psychotherapy with mental training strategies to aid clients’ mental health needs. 3) Academic: Teaching or conducting research at an educational institute (Sugarman, 2011). Overall job duties required of sports psychologists in any of these fields involve improving mental strength through psychological support.

[edit] Typical workday

The demands for sports psychologists in applied vs. academic streams would vary greatly. Those in academic settings could expect normal workweeks at an office, classroom or laboratory setting, working with other educators or researchers on campus. This requires extensive research skills. Applied sports psychologists, such as those working with professional sports teams, may be required to attend all sporting events – which would cause working hours to fluctuate and perhaps be quite demanding. The work setting would involve sporting events at various locations, so travel demands would be high (although typically compensated). During ‘game season’ they would most likely be working longer hours, on-location at games and practices, whereas during ‘off season’ they may hold more regular hours and schedule meetings with clients at an office. Scheduling flexibility is required, as well as strong interpersonal skills as they would work with the team and coaches at a personal level (Online Psychology Degrees). On average, these psychologists would meet with about 10-15 individual clients per week, around 2-3 per day depending on their schedule (Lutkenhouse, 2010).

A typical workday for both streams could involve any or all of the following: -Monitor sporting behaviours and team performance -Perform patient consultations, assess clients’ needs and abilities, provide support and strategies -Conduct or apply research in sports psychology -Develop tailored interventions, provide personal counselling, or present workshops which address mental strength areas (e.g. goal setting, self-analysis, visualization, communication, coping strategies) -Work or communicate with other psychologists, nutritionists, GPs, coaches, physiologists, educators or guidance counsellors as a multidisciplinary team (Online Psychology Degrees; Prospects, 2014).

[edit] Educational requirements and other qualifications

Entry-level positions for licensed sports psychologists are rare with a Bachelor’s degree, and typically require a Master’s or Doctorate degree in clinical, counseling, health or sports psychology. The requirements for the Master’s or Doctorate programs vary, although admission typically requires an undergraduate Honours Bachelor degree in a relevant field (American Board of Sport Psychology). To obtain a full licence, the MA or PhD degree should be accompanied by a minimum amount of supervised clinical experience and passing an examination, such as the EPPP, although these requirements and exams vary by region. Licencing must be done by the province’s governing psychology organization, such as the College of Psychologists of Ontario (Cherry, 2015). For AASP certified psychologists in the USA, the requirements state that re-certification is needed every five years, as well as attendance at a minimum of three conferences and participation in an advance workshop or course to upgrade skills and learn of any new developments in the field (Lutkenhouse, 2010). Similar rules would apply for Canadian certifications.

Division 47 of the APA suggests that sports psychologists should be licensed psychologists with “experience in applying psychological principles in sports settings.” Therefore an educational background in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Clinical Psychology, as well as training in sports, motive management, athletics and performance are highly recommended (Education Portal). Certification under a sports psychology board such as the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) adds credibility and therefore increases job outlook (Benefits of certification, 2015). The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) has recently formed the Sport and Exercise Psychology Section in order to develop specific educational training guidelines (CPA, 2015). Certification by companies such as the AASP helps to provide quality service and proper, updated therapeutic techniques to the public, while increasing consulting opportunities. Continued education and training should be obtained post-certification to remain current (Cherry, 2015). In the USA, the AASP requires recertification every five years, including attendance of training workshops or courses on new developments in the field, and participation in at least three conferences about sports and exercise psychology (Lutkenhouse, 2010). In Canada, similar requirements would apply to stay updated in the field.

Educational Institutes: -Queen’s University offers a Master’s or Doctoral program in Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity. See: http://www.queensu.ca/skhs/graduate/prospective-students/degree-programs/psychology-of-sport-and-physical-activity -Laurentian University offers the first of its kind with an undergraduate Bachelor degree in Sports Psychology. See: http://laurentian.ca/program/sport-psychology -McGill University offers both a Master’s and Doctoral program in Sport and Exercise Psychology. See: http://sportpsych.mcgill.ca/gpsp.html -University of Ottawa offers Psychology and Consultation in Sport, Physical Activity and Health as an undergraduate Bachelor of Kinesiology program, as well as a Master’s in Psychology and Pedagogy of Physical Activity and Sport, and a Doctoral of Psychosocial Sciences of Sports, Physical Activity and Health. See: http://www.health.uottawa.ca/shk/programs/index.htm -University of Windsor offers a Master’s of Human Kinetics and Doctoral program in Sport and Exercise Psychology. See: http://www1.uwindsor.ca/sportpsychology/

[edit] Related skills, interests, and abilities

In order to excel as a sports psychologist, it helps to hold a passion for sports and exercise, for helping others, and for teaching and encouraging those in need. Advanced problem solving, critical thinking, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a collaborative team is necessary. This job requires one to be an avid listener who can provide objective advice while maintaining confidentiality (APA, 2015). Strong communication skills and stress management are required, both for oneself and in order to teach others. Extensive knowledge of developmental and social issues, organization and systematic aspects of sport consulting, and the technical requirements of sport and competition (e.g., NCAA rules) are assets (Alleydog.com). Sports psychologists should be able to provide performance-enhancing cognitive and behavioural skills training - such as goal setting, imagery and planning, concentration and attention control, development of self-confidence, emotion management, sportsmanship and leadership skills (Smith, Smoll & Curtis, 1979). Educational training in kinesiology, physiology, motor learning, sports medicine and health provides a biobehavioural base for sport and exercise (Alleydog.com). Applied sports psychologists should also have a strong understanding of various deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation exercises. Those working independently would benefit greatly from business and marketing skills (Public description, APA).

[edit] Relevance of Psychology undergraduate degree

Most psychology courses may be applied to sports psychology in some way, in particular those that focus on cognition, personality, learning, development, perception and motivation would be useful for learning how to provide personalized mental well-being strategies. Understanding the theoretical, cultural, social and developmental foundations of psychology allows sports psychologists to provide multidimensional solutions to problems. Courses in stress, trauma, conflict and psychotherapy are beneficial for counselling athletes who may be struggling with personal difficulties (Public description, APA). Clinical sporthttps://kumu.brocku.ca/common/skins/common/images/button_italic.pngs psychologists should also be trained in psychological assessment techniques, intervention and prevention methods. A basis in neuroscience or neuropsychopharmacology can help psychologists better understand and explain the biological basis to certain issues (Alleydog.com). Understanding drugs and behaviour, abnormal psychological disorders, food and eating, and sexuality can help to identify deeper issues (e.g., steroid use, Depression, Anorexia, etc.). Courses in critical thinking, statistics, research design and computer data analysis are particularly useful for academic-stream sports psychologists, as they may need to perform, analyze or apply these scientific research skills (Brocku.ca, 2014). As this is an interactive, often team-focused position, social psychology courses may be highly applicable. Theories of positive psychology may be very useful as well in order to help others with an improvement- vs. problem-focused approach (Public description, APA). These courses help provide psychologists with the knowledge and ability to teach and apply certain valuable skills, including: visualization, conflict resolution, resilience, emphasis of process vs. outcome, shifting attributional orientation, monitoring and shaping thought patterns, and cognitive-behavioural self-regulation (Alleydog.com).

[edit] Salary potential

According to 2015 Healthcare Salaries and the 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys, the average yearly wage for Sports Psychologists is around $55,000. In Canada, the annual salary ranges from between $44,510 to $148,188 per year, with the average hourly wage range around $14.08-$53.28 per hour, which gradually increases to an average hourly rate of about $39.19 per hour. In the United Sates, the average yearly salary ranges from between $72, 540 to $92,000 per year, with the mean hourly wage around $34.87 per hour (Healthcare salaries, 2015). The majority earn $45,000 to $80,000 per year while the top paid psychologists take home over $100,000 per year (Healthcare salaries, 2015). Those who are self-employed earn an average salary of $71,880, while those employed at institutions and university faculty positions earn around $55,000. Salaries vary according to the experience, area of specialization, the employing organization and the amount of advance training received (Education Portal). Experienced psychologists working for professional sports teams or athletes typically earn the highest salaries, while those in educational institutes or research facilities receive more modest salaries. The first couple years after certification may not have the best pay range, but after 3-5 years of diligent work and creating a large network, the higher pay range should be met, with increases along the way, reflecting the importance of seniority on earning potential. Those who work at an hourly rate typically offer a sliding scale, with new graduates earning about $50/hour, while seasoned professionals may earn around $300/hour.

[edit] Job outlook

Employment rates for all psychologists are expected to increase by about 12% between 2012 and 2022, with sports psychology experiencing an even higher growth rate (up to 20%), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Education Portal). Employment and Social Development Canada reports that job outlook is expected to be good until at least 2020 (Canadian Business, 2014). Sports psychologists with a Doctoral degree have the best expected job outlook, while those with Master’s or Bachelor’s degrees will face competition for available jobs and lower job growth (Education Portal).

[edit] To know more

Visit these sites in order to gain more information on Sports Psychology: -Association for Applied Sport Psychology http://www.appliedsportpsych.org/ -Canadian Psychological Association – Sport and Exercise Psychology http://www.cpa.ca/aboutcpa/cpasections/sportandexercise/ -Psychology Career Centre – Sports Psychologist Career Information http://www.psychologycareercenter.org/sports-psychologist.html

[edit] References

-AGCAS editors (2014, October). Sport and exercise psychologist, Prospects. Retrieved from http://www.prospects.ac.uk/sport_and_exercise_psychologist_job_description.htm -Benefits of certification, (2015). Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.appliedsportpsych.org/certified-consultants/benefits-of-certification/ -Canada’s best jobs, (2014). Canadian Business. Retrieved from http://www.canadianbusiness.com/lists-and-rankings/best-jobs/2014-psychologist/ -Cherry, K. (2015). Career profile: Sports psychology, About Education. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/psychologycareerprofiles/p/sportspsyc.htm -Credentials and certificates, American Board of Sport Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.americanboardofsportpsychology.org/Certificates/tabid/581/Default.aspx -Lutkenhouse, J. (2010). Career opportunities in the field of exercise and sport psychology. Ad-hoc Committee on Employment Opportunities. Retrieved from http://www.apadivisions.org/division-47/about/resources/students/careers.pdf -Online Psychology Degrees. Retrieved from http://www.online-psychology-degrees.org/faq/what-is-a-typical-day-like-for-a-sports-psychologist/ -Public description of sport psychology, American Psychology Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/sports.aspx -Pursuing a career in sport & performance psychology. (2014). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/action/science/performance/education- training.aspx -Smith, R. E., Smoll, F. L., & Curtis, B. (1979). Coach effectiveness training: A cognitive behavioral approach to enhancing relationship skills in youth sport coaches. Journal of Sport Psychology, 1, 59-75. -Sport and exercise psychology (2015), Canadian Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.cpa.ca/aboutcpa/cpasections/sportandexercise/ -Sports psychologist, Psychology Jobs. Retrieved from http://www.alleydog.com/ psychology-jobs/sports-psychologist.php#ixzz3RdkWP4aP -Sports psychologist salary (2015), Healthcare Salaries. Retrieved from http://www.healthcare-salaries.com/physicians/sports-psychologist-salary -Sports psychology career information and education requirements, Education Portal. Retrieved from http://education-portal.com/articles/Sports_Psychology_Career_Information_and_Education_Requirements.html -Sport psychology off the field (2015), American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sport-psychology.aspx -Sugarman, K. (2011). Careers in sport psychology, Psych Web. Retrieved from http://www.psywww.com/sports/careers.htm -Undergraduate calendar: Psychology, Brock University. Retrieved from http://www.brocku.ca/webcal/2014/undergrad/psyc.html

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