The applied work began by giving a short presentation to the team introducing them to sport psychology, what it is and how they can use it to elevate their performance. It outlined how consultation sessions work and a bit about ethical practice and the clients’ rights (contact me using the contact form to request a copy of the presentation slideshow). In a way, I made it somewhat ‘mandatory’ for each player to have at least an intake session with me. Basically I didn’t ask if they wanted to but asked when they were available to. There were a couple that were reluctant and said it would be a waste of their own time and mine as they felt they ‘didn’t need it’ or it ‘wasn’t for them’. Mostly though, the whole team had at least one session and I ended up having about 10 regulars during my time there.
(there will be a separate post on my experience of intake sessions).
After the intake session, I would schedule the next session for 4 weeks after. Not for any particular reason, I felt that was long enough to review the information, let the player take in the conversation too and plan where I want to take my next session.
Navigating the Work
With that said, to plan the next session I would thoroughly review my notes and recall the conversation I had with the player. I would highlight certain bits of information that stood out and particularly information where I felt I could/should dive deeper into and get a better insight. For example, a player might mention being anxious before games, I often wouldn’t delve too much into that in the intake session as I like to keep it light and there’s a lot to cover.
So, I would then bring this up in the next session to see if there’s any substance in it. By that I mean, if it significantly impacts the players’ performance or lifestyle. Anxiety would then become a topic to cover in session 2. I’d follow the same procedure to uncover other topics to discuss depending on what the player disclosed in the first session.
(There will be a separate post about staying organised, planning and doing the admin work).
Essentially this was my process as the sessions continued. Some were more difficult than others as they may not be as talkative or self aware. Some people gave very little information or short answers, to which I had to probe to get as much information as possible. I expect to encounter these types of personalities though. However, there were some players where our conversation just flowed very naturally and we could talk for hours. These were my favourite ones as it didn’t feel like I was interrogating someone, but rather a mutual conversation where I still covered what I needed to cover.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I found that the most difficult part of the applied practice was making judgements. I discussed this in terms of assignments but in terms of hands on practice, I found it difficult to know when to begin an intervention or introduce a method to developing a particular psychological skill. For example, from information obtained from the player, my own knowledge, experience and wider research, I suggested that a player suffering from pre performance anxiety would benefit from developing a pre performance routine. I came to this conclusion after about 4 one-to-one 45-60 minute official sessions with the player and numerous hours of observations.
Is this enough information? Was it too early to suggest an intervention? Was it even the right thing to do!? I’m not sure. I really don’t know. What I did know is that my decisions were based on facts, literature and with the players’ best interest first.
I made sure that the player was comfortable in putting what I suggested into practice, made sure that they understood why I suggested it and ensured they asked any questions before I came back to the next session with their plan for implementing the intervention. This was the process for all of my regulars. Following sessions involved a review of the intervention, how they felt it impacted them, if they felt comfortable practicing it and adapting the approach accordingly.
Coming To An End
My placement ended when the teams’ season ended as the club did not have the budget to fund my BPS Stage 2, or they didn’t want to. It was a great experience, from which I learnt so much and developed my own way of doing things. The way I did things at this club may not be the way I do things at the next. Naturally, you will develop your own way of doing things as well. What I thought was interesting to discuss in sessions or was a logical flow of the observation-intervention process may not be what you think is telling or logical. Allow yourself to grow and adapt your approach until you find the most fitting way to assist the athlete. This is what work experience is for.
Do your research and be confident in your judgements!
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