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.
Hypnosis is not a dangerous procedure. It is not mind control or brainwashing. A therapist cannot make a person do something embarrassing or that the person doesn't want to do. The greatest risk, as discussed above, is that false memories can potentially be created and that it may be less effective than pursuing other, more established and traditional psychiatric treatments.
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To achieve fast results, many popular executive coaches model their interventions after those used by sports coaches, employing techniques that reject out of hand any introspective process that can take time and cause “paralysis by analysis.” The idea that an executive coach can help employees improve performance quickly is a great selling point to CEOs, who put the bottom line first. Yet that approach tends to gloss over any unconscious conflict the employee might have. This can have disastrous consequences for the company in the long term and can exacerbate the psychological damage to the person targeted for help.
The challenges can come from a few different aspects. There is the level of difficulty that clients have in overcoming obstacles that they may be facing. Then there are outside dynamics that can make a difference, such as pressure that athletes may feel from their family, relationships, coaches, or even the media. One of the biggest challenges is when an athlete may lack some of the motivation necessary to bring change or develop a necessary skill—perhaps it was their coach’s or family’s idea that they see a sports psychologist and they are still uncertain about whether or not they want to put in the time to address the mental side of their game. Sports psychology is not a magic formula for success. It is an approach to performance enhancement that requires motivation and participation by the athletes themselves. So when that cooperation and motivation are lacking, it is perhaps the biggest challenge.
Although there are different techniques, clinical hypnotherapy is generally performed in a calm, therapeutic environment. The therapist will guide you into a relaxed, focused state and ask you to think about experiences and situations in positive ways that can help you change the way you think and behave. Unlike some dramatic portrayals of hypnosis in movies, books, or on stage, you will not be unconscious, asleep, or in any way out of control of yourself. You will hear the therapist’s suggestions, but it is up to you to decide whether or not to act on them.
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