Counseling and Sports Psychology

Josie Nicholson, Ph.D., CC-AASP
Counseling and Sport Psychologist

Counseling is an opportunity for an athlete to meet one-on-one with a mental health professional. It is confidential and can be a one-time visit or weekly meetings.

Common issues faced by athletes that can be addressed through counseling include:
•  Injury, Concussions
•  Disordered eating
•  Identity concerns associated with graduating or injury
•  Physical/mental fatigue and/or burnout
•  Sadness or depression
•  Substance abuse
•  Sexual assault
•  Loneliness, Homesickness
•  Loss of direction or dissatisfaction
•  Anxiety
•  Test taking and study problems
•  Pregnancy
•  Career concerns
•  Relationship issues
•  Family problems
•  Anger
•  Body image issues
•  Adjustment to college life
•  Relationship difficulties

Sport psychology services can be similar to counseling services but emphasize performance enhancement and building skills (or removing obstacles) to facilitate optimal performance.

Some issues that are commonly addressed in these sessions include:
•  Low confidence
•  Difficulty in communicating with teammates or coaches
•  Distractibility in competition
•  Lack of joy and fun in sport
•  Inconsistent performing
•  Taking too few or too many risks
•  Lack of motivation
•  Performance slumps or “choking”
•  Playing with hesitation
•  Unproductive self-coaching
•  Ineffective leadership skills
•  Sub-optimal team dynamics

Most athletes realize the importance of physical preparation. GREAT athletes recognize that placing emphasis on mental preparation as well as physical preparation facilitates optimal performance.

Team-centered workshops are interactive and can be helpful in building team cohesion, focusing teams on common goals, teaching mental skills in a group format, improving team dynamics or communication, or resolving team conflicts that can threaten cohesion and performance.

An athlete does not have to be struggling enormously to make a visit, and they can come for a brief consultation or set up weekly appointments. If they realize that they are not living up to their potential academically, athletically, or personally, and if they are having difficulty making changes on their own, counseling may be a helpful resource to consider.  

Everything discussed during a counseling or sport psychology session is confidential, thus it will not be revealed to coaches, teammates, parents, friends, professors, or anyone else unless a written release of information is signed by the student.

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