Sport Psychology, Traditional Psychology, and Mental Performance Consulting: What Athletes Need To Know

In part 1 of this article we explained the term sport psychology and highlighted some of the similarities and differences between sport psychology and mental health. Knowing how these two areas are similar and different is critical because it will help you determine when you should get help and who you should get that help from. I’m Dr. Tim White, owner and sport psychologist at White House Sport Psychology. There are many mental health professionals (i.e. psychologists, counselors, social workers) who are great at helping their clients address their mental health. These professionals hold a license to practice their specific form of mental health and most are very good at what they do. However, one challenge that comes up is a mental health professional who claims to be doing sport psychology simply based on the fact that they are working with someone who is an athlete. Just because a psychologist works with athletes doesn’t make them a sport psychologist. Remember, as similar as they are, sport psychology and mental health can be distinguished from each other. Similarly, there are mental performance consultants (some certified, some not) and other people with a lot of experience in sports who aren’t qualified to help an athlete address their mental health, but can help with the mental skills, strategies, and techniques an athlete uses to maximize their performance. Ultimately it is critical for both professionals to know their boundaries and what they are qualified, and legally allowed to do. Many clinicians have expertise in one area or the other. Some, like myself at White House Sport Psychology, are trained, certified, and licensed in both. As you search for help with your mental game and/or your mental health, make sure you are learning about the professional you are going to work with. Talk to them about your concerns and the needs you have. Ask questions about their background, education, and certification or licensure status. It’s OK to gather this information before you arrange an appointment. In fact, it can help you and the clinician set your expectations and work more effectively together. If you’re ready to get started with Sport Psychology services and want to work with us, or want to learn more and see if working with us would be a good fit, click the link below to fill out our new client appointment form to get started!

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