chapter  41
9 Pages

Professional athletes

ByPippa Grange

Many professional athletes are used to being told how they ought to handle challenges, and their adaptive (and maladaptive) responses to adversity have been reinforced by authority figures (parents, coaches, physicians, trainers) for a considerable time. In a professional environment, where non-sport-related behaviors and activities receive increasing scrutiny, athletes can find themselves needing to operate within a fairly rigid set of behavioral guidelines that do not necessarily leave room for the expression of individuality. An outcome of these restrictions can be that professional athletes enter the therapeutic encounter expecting a similar dynamic. The job of facilitating athletes’ choices about what outcomes they would like from the work undertaken together can take substantial time and effort on the psychologist’s part. Collaborative effort may be a novelty. It may help to start by asking athletes how they feel about being there and explaining the rules in terms of confidentiality, reporting, and client notes, as well as something about the role of a psychologist. An introduction may go something like, “I’d encourage you to think of this as your space and your time, and what I’m interested in is helping you work through what is going on for you. Over time what I’ve found is that what seems to work best is when we approach this work together as a team.” (see Andersen, 2000).