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Aren't we all the same!

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

A psychologist is just a psychologist, right! Not always. In the world of athletics, it has to be hard to find a provider that understands the uniqueness of the sporting environment. So, I wanted to show you that, no, not all psychologists are the same.

Clinical sport psychologists and clinical psychologists have distinct areas of expertise and training that make them suitable for different roles and populations. Here are some reasons why clinical sport psychologists are better suited to work with athletes compared to clinical psychologists:

  1. Specialized Knowledge: Sport psychologists have added specific training in understanding the psychological dynamics of sports and athletic performance making them more equipped with knowledge of performance enhancement techniques, motivation strategies, and mental skills training that are tailored to the unique demands of sports.

  2. Performance Enhancement Focus: Sport psychologists are not just focused on mental health challenges or deficits in performance. They specialize in optimizing athletes' mental skills and performance to help athletes either return performance to typical levels or to reach maximum levels of performance.

  3. Contextual Understanding: Sport psychologists have a deep understanding of the sports environment, including the challenges athletes face during training, competitions, and recovery. This contextual understanding allows them to provide targeted support that aligns with the demands of the sport.

  4. Athlete-Centered Approach: Sport psychologists are familiar with the mindset and culture of athletes, enabling them to establish rapport more easily. They can use athlete-specific language and strategies to engage athletes in the therapeutic process.

  5. Performance-Related Challenges: Athletes often encounter issues that are distinct from clinical mental health concerns. These challenges might include pre-game jitters, motivation slumps, performance plateaus, and dealing with the pressure of high-stakes competitions. Sport psychologists are well-versed in addressing these issues.

  6. Integration with Coaching: Sport psychologists often collaborate with coaches to create comprehensive performance enhancement plans. They understand the coach-athlete dynamic and can work together to ensure athletes' mental and physical training aligns for optimal results.

  7. Goal Alignment: The primary goal of sport psychology is to enhance an athlete's performance and mental skills. This is distinct from clinical psychology, which focuses on diagnosing and treating mental health disorders. Aligning the right expertise with the specific goal ensures more effective outcomes.

The best way to understand if your provider is an "actual" clinical sport psychologist is to look for the "strange" letters after their name. First, you should see letters, such as PhD, PsyD, or LPC after their names meaning that they are licensed mental health providers and can treat the athlete for both mental health and performance concerns. Second, after these letters, you should find the letters CMPC showing that the individual did additional sport training and is a Certified Mental Performance Consultant through the Association For Applied Sport Psychology.

Finding appropriate providers that understand the uniqueness of an athlete is an important goal. Thus, I wanted to start my blog series with this important message to ease the process. Although it appear that a psychologist is just a psychologist, we are not all the same! #SportPsychology #MentalPerformance #ExcelSportPsychology

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