What is Sport Psychology?

The field of Sport Psychology/Psychiatry broadly aims to optimize performance and well-being by developing a robust mental skillset and addressing mental health needs directly.

Athletes at all levels confront a unique set of mental health challenges. Beyond the stress of frequent practices and competition, athletes can experience elevated rates of injury/pain disorders, burnout, depression and anxiety, all of which can limit the enjoyment and success of their efforts. Most people deeply engaged in sport spend countless hours honing their physical skills but allocate much less time to working on the mental skills necessary for peak performance or to address psychological symptoms affecting results. The field of Sport Psychology/Psychiatry broadly aims to optimize performance and well-being by developing a robust mental skillset and addressing mental health needs directly. Additionally, the work can explore an athlete’s relationship to his/her sport and motivations for participating.

Sports work is always tailored to the athlete’s unique circumstances and goals, but often integrates elements of mindfulness, CBT, and visualization training. The focus is placed on the process of training and improvement rather than any specific outcome of a competition. Daily brief homework assignments coupled with pre- and post-workout exercises are used to reinforce the mental skills being developed. For some clients, developing and implementing a mental training routine over 8-10 weeks suffices to set the path an athlete can then follow on his/her own with follow up scheduled as needed. Other clients find their sports work as an entry point into longer-term dynamic psychotherapy which provides insight into other domains of their lives. The flexibility, creativity and shared goals make Sport Psychology a highly rewarding field for both client and therapist.

Disclaimer: The posts on this blog are for informational purposes only and do not replace direct care from your mental health care provider. Contact your mental health care provider for specific questions or concerns about your own mental health. All posts are copyrighted, and the views expressed on this blog are representative of the opinions of Pacific Coast Psychiatric Associates (PCPA) as an organization.

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