Becoming a Sports Psychologist

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Certification

Dear Marv,

I have been looking for support in sports psychology for so long I almost cried when I found your sight. I received my M.A. in psychological counseling in 1994. I am good at reading athletes and what is confusing them regarding their performance. I have helped mostly high school athletes. My step daughter is an athlete. I used to be one and am picking that practice back up. I need support knowing that there are other sports counselors and psychologists I can talk to, network with, get more professional information from. I feel so alone here in the "boon-docks" and felt so relieved to read the qualities of a good sports psychologists and found that I had all of those qualities. I was also relieved to find that my practices match what was recommended in your EXRX information, and that there was more I could do. My main question is, "How do I become recognized as a specialist in sports psychology?" What kind of certificate can I go after and how do I go about getting it? Thanks for your time

Molly


Molly,

Below is Marv's reply, if you have not received it directly. Keep in mind, Marv refers to himself as a Performance Enhancement Counselor.

In addition to Marv's suggestions, I would like to add: More difficult than earning a degree from a University, you will need to establish some sort of credibility with the sports community you hope offer your expertise. Also see Important Characteristics of Sports Psychologists.

The AAASP (Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology) site offers certification, but the criteria seems very stringent.

It appears the ability to market yourself as a sports psychologist is the major achievement in being a sports psychologist, peak performance consultant, or performance enhancement counselor, as in Marv's case.

James Griffing, MS, BS


Hi Molly,

Thanks for your nice note. The only way I know of being recognized as a sports psychologist is to attend a college or university offering sports psychology degrees. Though I am not a sports psychologist, I agree with their approach up to a certain point. I do not believe sports psychologists are wrong, but perhaps they are only half-right. There is more to performance enhancement training than just visualization and other mental techniques. My experience over many years has led to me to the conclusion that athletes' personal issues must be resolved (or begin to be resolved) in order for them to perform at their skill levels.

I'm working on a new book called "Mind Over Sports" which, when it's completed, may be of interest to you.

If I can be of further help, be sure to let me know.

Marv Fremerman


Like Molly, I was very happy to come across your site. I have an MA in Health Education and an MA in Counselling Psychology. I have taken several Sport Psych courses years ago as part of my Health Education training (1985). I am presently going through Certification in Hypnotherapy.

I am very interested in working with athletes on performance enhancement and performance anxiety issues. I would love to get a copy of your book but am also wondering if you might suggest additional courses that would be helpfull.
Thank you very much for your time.

Jill


Hi Jill,

Thanks for your e-mail...if you'd like a copy of my book (on CD-ROM) you can order it through ExRx.net and I'm sure James will see to it that it gets shipped out to you.

I noticed you mentioned you have an interest in "hypnotherapy"...which is great. But it's important that when you get into this field, you have to be certain that your clients, in order for your sessions to be effective, must be free of all issues and baggage they may be carrying around that could negatively affect the effectiveness of the process. In the meantime, I thought perhaps you might be interested in receiving the enclosed attachments that deal with visualization and meditation, which as you know, are very similar to hypnotherapy...perhaps they could be of some value.

As for courses you might take, I really don't know what to recommend other than those not only involving sports psychology, but also clinical psychology as well since, in my opinion and based on work I've done with athletes and sports teams, visualization techniques and other forms of mental training are ineffective if the athlete is encumbered with unresolved issues in his or her life, which is why the clinical aspect is so important.

Hope this is of help...let me know if you have any other questions.

Marv Fremerman


Thank you very much. I agree with you about the necessity of focussing on the athlete as a whole person who carries with them many other things other than their sport performance. I am a practicing therapist and am very comfortable with the work that you talk about. I agree that visualization or any form of mental rehearsal alone will not make a difference if there are pressing issues that need to be adressed. I am just looking to increase my knowledge in the sport psych area. Thank you

Jill


Degreed Programs

Dear Marv,

Hi. I have just graduated from high school and I am going into college. As you know, sports psychology is a relatively new field, and it's very difficult to find a school that has that specific major. I am VERY interested in becoming a sports psychologist, but the school that I am going to is a liberal arts school and only has the standard major of psychology. There are no sports medicine majors or anything like that. Do you have any recommendations of what courses I should take other than psychology to prepare myself for graduate school? Any advice you could give me would be much appreciated.

Thanks for your time, Arielle


Dear Arielle,

Thanks for your note. Should you decide to become a Sports Psychologist, you should also be sure that you have a degree in Clinical Psychology as well. As you're probably aware, the field of psychology is very territorial...as a Sports Psychologist, you're not allowed to delve ever so slightly into the problems and personal issues of an athlete since that is considered the domain of the Clinical Psychologist, and I've been told by the head of a Midwestern University's Psychology Department that if I obtained a degree in Sports Psychology and crossed over the line and began helping athletes with their personal issues and problems, that I could lose my license. And from my perspective, helping an athlete resolve personal issues and problems in his or her life is just as important, if not more important, than teaching visualization and other forms of mental techniques. After hearing this (I was once going to become a Sports Psychologist myself), I decided to become a Performance Enhancement Trainer (which is what I call myself) and that way, I can teach visualization and other forms of mental rehearsal as well as help athletes with their personal issues and problems.

I also found that before visualization and other mental techniques can be effective, athletes must first look inside themselves and resolve (or begin the process of resolving) important issues in their lives that are affecting how they feel about themselves and that are creating psychological baggage affecting their ability to focus. Then, and only then, will visualization and other forms of mental techniques be effective.

Hope this answers your question...good luck.

Marv Fremerman


Arielle,

I can also suggest looking at the Exercise Science route. After receiving an undergrad degree in psychology or exercise science (as in my case), you can then apply for a graduate program through a University's Kinesiology or Exercise Science Department. Although I studied other disiplines within Exercise Science, my own master's degree is in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sports and Exercise Psychology. I never went for a PhD though, but they do offer these Sports Psychology programs in the Sports and Exercise Science Departments at certain major Universities. Volunteer for practicum work and find yourself a good internship, since practical experience can be more important than the degree in this line of work.

James Griffing
ExRx.net


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