There are two types of sports psychology. One that deals with mental-skills training. It’s teaching athletes to use psychological skills to, say, control anxiety. The other deals with psychological therapy. It uses some of the mainstream talking therapies and applies them to sports performance to deal with the underlying issues that affect an athlete.
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Some exercise and sport psychology professionals are also licensed psychologists, who are doctorally trained individuals who have met their state's educational and training requirements and passed a comprehensive exam. These psychologists undergo specialized postdoctoral training in how to optimize athletes' performance and well-being. Only licensed psychologists may call themselves psychologists.
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Sport psychologists often work with several different types of athletes, from amateurs to professionals. Athletes might seek out these professionals on their own, or coaches might seek the help of these types of psychologists when they notice that the athletes under their tutelage seem to be off. According to one study, the majority of Olympic athletes have used several different types of psychological treatments to reduce anxiety before performances.
Although hypnotherapy can seem strange, perhaps even implausible, it is regarded as potentially effective in treating a variety of ailments, particularly phobias, addictions, and problematic habits. Hypnosis may also be used to help patients cope with stress, smoking cessation, and chronic pain, and some women even opt to use hypnosis to manage the pain of childbirth. In patients with trauma-related conditions such as posttraumatic stress (PTSD), therapists may attempt to talk to clients about their traumatic memories under hypnosis.
A person with depression experiences a wide variety of emotions. According to the University of New Hampshire, hypnotherapy can help a person learn to reduce and/or better control feelings of anxiety, stress, and sadness. Hypnotherapy is also used to treat negative behaviors that could be worsening a person’s depression. These behaviors may include smoking and poor eating and sleeping habits.
In North America, early years of sport psychology included isolated studies of motor behavior, social facilitation, and habit formation. During the 1890s, E. W. Scripture conducted a range of behavioral experiments, including measuring the reaction time of runners, thought time in school children, and the accuracy of an orchestra conductor's baton. Despite Scripture's previous experiments, the first recognized sports psychology study was carried out by an American psychologist Norman Triplett, in 1898. The work of Norman Triplett demonstrated that bicyclists were more likely to cycle faster with a pacemaker or a competitor, which has been foundational in the literature of social psychology and social facilitation. He wrote about his findings in what was regarded as the first scientific paper on sports psychology, titled “The Dynamogenic Factors in Pacemaking and Competition”, which was published in 1898, in the American Journal of Psychology. Research by ornithologists Lashley and Watson on the learning curve for novice archers provided a robust template for future habit formation research, as they argued that humans would have higher levels of motivation to achieve in a task like archery compared to a mundane task. Researchers Albert Johanson and Joseph Holmes tested baseball player Babe Ruth in 1921, as reported by sportswriter Hugh S. Fullerton. Ruth's swing speed, his breathing right before hitting a baseball, his coordination and rapidity of wrist movement, and his reaction time were all measured, with the researchers concluding that Ruth's talent could be attributed in part to motor skills and reflexes that were well above those of the average person.
McGrail believes that the approach Margaret took should work for most people: “It uses the power of the mind to change the behavior, and it is the mind that creates the addiction to smoking 10, 20, or 30 cigarettes a day. In hypnosis, we’re using that same power, much like a computer, to make those changes.” McGrail finds out what he needs to know about the person’s relationship with tobacco: history, triggers, and motivations for stopping. “The suggestions I give while I verbally guide them through their program make them start thinking about smoking as something they don’t want — or have — to do,” he explains. Instead, they can choose appropriate outlets for the energy they once devoted to smoking. For example, Jonathan, a 34-year-old database manager from Atlanta who’d smoked for 16 years when he decided to quit with the help of a $1.99 app on his iPhone, washed his clothes — even when they were clean — instead of lighting up. He also performed breathing exercises when he was tempted. A little silly, sure, but infinitely better for him than a pack of Parliaments.
As a certified consulting hypnotist, I have helped Houstonians for more than 30 years successfully overcome an addiction to cigarette smoking. Through hypnosis, the client is able to visualize their life without smoking, and find desirable fulfillment and satisfaction in quitting. I personalize a program for each client, providing a customized approach to help him or her stop smoking.
Careers in sports psychology typically begin with graduate study through the doctoral level, as many states require a doctoral degree in order to become licensed as a sports psychologist. Even if being licensed isn’t required for a particular job, a doctoral degree is a de facto standard for those who want to be psychologists, including those with an eye toward sports psychology.
In 1996, as a result of a three-year research project led by Lindsay B. Yeates, the Australian Hypnotherapists Association (founded in 1949), the oldest hypnotism-oriented professional organization in Australia, instituted a peer-group accreditation system for full-time Australian professional hypnotherapists, the first of its kind in the world, which "accredit[ed] specific individuals on the basis of their actual demonstrated knowledge and clinical performance; instead of approving particular 'courses' or approving particular 'teaching institutions'" (Yeates, 1996, p.iv; 1999, p.xiv). The system was further revised in 1999.
Dave Elman was a master hypnotherapist, teaching physicians, dentists and psychologists back in the 1950s how to do what they should already have been taught in their training. This book is full of stories, examples and dialogues with clients that demonstrate his ability to work successfully with a stunning array of people. It is truly amazing that it has taken over 50 years since his work in order for hypnosis to begin emerging as the tool for personal transformation that it is. Although the history of hypnosis is much older that that, it has long suffered the indignity of scorn by those who don't understand it, fear it or simply believe it can't really work.
Hypnosis might not be appropriate for a person who has psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, or for someone who is using drugs or alcohol. It should be used for pain control only after a doctor has evaluated the person for any physical disorder that might require medical or surgical treatment. Hypnosis also may be a less effective form of therapy than other more traditional treatments, such as medication, for psychiatric disorders.
It’s a really tough time for athletes. They would go through a period where they are questioning themselves, their work, and their skills. As a psychologist, I’d like to give them time to digest what’s happened, especially at the Olympic games for which they’ve been training for four or eight years. Then they can come to me and reflect on what’s happened. I’d like to be a mirror so that they can talk and open up. To be a sounding board for the athlete, and to start rebuilding if they are ready to do so.
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Motivation — Recent research implies that sports-related achievement motivation is composed of several traits that together form a general orientation of a person towards achievement in sports. This research refers to The Achievement Motivation Inventory (AMI) (Schuler, Thornton, Frintrup & Mueller-Hanson, 2003) which is a broad-spectrum assessment of achievement-motivation in business, and has been used to develop the Sports Performance Indicator.
Even though you appear to be in a trance during hypnosis, you are not unconscious. You are still aware of your surroundings, and -- despite what many stage performers may claim during an entertaining show -- you cannot be made do to anything against your will. In fact, brain tests performed on patients during hypnotism sessions have shown a high level of neurological activity.
Australian hypnotism/hypnotherapy organizations (including the Australian Hypnotherapists Association) are seeking government regulation similar to other mental health professions. However, the various tiers of Australian government have shown consistently over the last two decades that they are opposed to government legislation and in favour of self-regulation by industry groups.