The article written by Jonathan Alpert regarding the role of the therapist is especially relevant to performance psychology. I agreed with much of what he defined as the role of therapist being someone who can and should give advice. This was a contrary concept than was drilled into us. Our clients in the performance arena typically are looking for quick interventions, and solution focused therapies. I guess ‘quick interventions’ is code for advice giving, and even though we all know therapy takes time; the common setting for a performance psychology consultant will be a limited time window and sessions.

The sport and performance psychology population is unique and may require exceptions to the rules of traditional counseling psychology. I connected with Alpert’s anecdote about the patient with the relationship issues. We may encounter a similar population in consulting. The performance environment allows for more aggressive sessions since we may not be dealing with clinical issues. Even though the issues may exist we as consultants may not have the competence to deal with them. Dealing primarily with the performance issues of athletes makes us more their mental coach, than their therapist. Just as the performer has a strength coach, a nutritionist, sports medicine, and sport coaches, we can serve as the mental coach. Following Alpert’s logic we would still be ethical, effective consultants if we focused on the solutions and not the clinical issues.

While I have been advocating for Alpert’s viewpoint I do understand the role of traditional therapy. It is something we should be aware of and competent to perform. The quick and easy approach will be just that easy, but if a client does require extended sessions it would be more effective if we were trained to do that. This is why we have the master’s degree to train us to work in the performance realm, and an advanced degree (PsyD., or PhD.) to learn how to perform therapy as a licensed psychologist. The awareness of this dichotomy was lost on me a year ago, but now it is something I am clear about. It helps me understand the role of an advanced degree and helps me to figure out if I should pursue one, and which type of degree I should pursue for what role I want to be competent to provide.

Advertisements