“Hypnosis is a different state of mind associated with four major characteristics,” he said. First is a “highly focused attention on something.” It could be an issue you're having, or a problem you want to address. Second is disassociating oneself from the immediate physical environment. “You focus on the beach in Florida in the middle of a Boston winter,” he said, anticipating my particular winter-addled frame of mind perfectly. “Instead of traveling there, you go there with your mind, and you're fully focused on the beach.”
Additionally, hypnosis is often utilized in a manner that allows deep self-exploration and discovery of unconscious intentions, motivations, or events and experiences that result in symptoms undesirable to a person. Hypnosis circumvents conscious thought processes, allowing a person to gain better insight into a particular problem. Individuals achieve different results with hypnosis, as they do with other forms of therapy. However, it appears that some people are more receptive to this form of treatment than others and achieve increased benefits.
An obvious area is volleyball and beach volleyball athletes, given that those were my sports. I’m also an expert at working with youth up-and-coming athletes, starting as young as nine years of age. I really enjoy working with athletes on the origin of their fear and providing tools for them to breakthrough whatever it is that’s preventing them from getting to the next level in their sport.
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.
Depending on the purpose of the hypnotherapy (i.e., smoking cessation, weight loss, improvement in public speaking, or addressing some deep emotional turmoil), follow-up may be advisable. When trying to eradicate unwanted habits, it is good practice to revisit the therapist, based upon a date prearranged between the therapist and the patient, to report progress and, if necessary, to obtain secondary hypnotherapy to reinforce progress made.
Second, students can pursue a doctorate within the Psychology Department’s APA-accredited counseling psychology program and then select sport psychology as their specialization. Students who graduate from the doctoral program will be eligible for licensure as a psychologist and certification as a sport consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. To learn more about this degree option, click here.
Eric Hehman is CEO and principal of Austin Asset, a financial services firm in Austin, Texas. When Hehman was tapped to succeed the founder as CEO, he turned to Larry Fehd of Human Performance Strategies for guidance. Fehd offered a blend of consulting and coaching. As a consultant, he offered a road map for Hehman’s successful transition as CEO and firm leader. As a coach, he held Hehman accountable while offering support and candid feedback. “My coach was always asking me, ‘So what are you going to do?’” Hehman said. “He wouldn’t let me duck when things got difficult.”
Sports psychology is an interdisciplinary practice that explores the link between psychological and physical factors affecting performance in competitive sports and athletic activity. This specialty incorporates the science of physiology, kinesiology and biomechanics to assist sports psychologists in treating a wide range of mental health issues commonly experienced by athletes and sports industry professionals in a clinical setting.
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Hypnosis is not a silver bullet, of course. Several years ago, Nelson, a 39-year-old banker from New York City, attended a group hypnosis session in Boston with several friends who were also trying to quit smoking, and they were all hypnotized en masse. He says, “ didn’t crave cigarettes for a good four months afterwards. Something in my mind turned it off: didn’t want it, didn’t need it.” Then, after a minor car accident, he ran to the corner bodega to grab a pack. “I smoked to calm myself down,” he recalls. While the hypnosis was effective, Nelson felt like his choice to smoke or not smoke was being dictated not by him but by an outside force in a way that made him uncomfortable. He has no plans to try hypnosis again.
Practice in the field of applied sport and exercise psychology usually involves a combination of individual and group consulting or counseling depending on the style of the professional conducting the intervention and the needs of the client. Although there are many specific concepts within applied sport and exercise psychology (e.g., goal setting, concentration, motivation, relaxation, imagery), the general goal is to teach mental skills necessary to perform consistently in training and competition, increase adherence to exercise programs, and to help individuals realize their potential.
Hypnosis is not a psychotherapeutic treatment or a form of psychotherapy, but rather a tool or procedure that helps facilitate various types of therapies and medical or psychological treatments. Only trained health care providers certified in clinical hypnosis can decide, with their patient, if hypnosis should be used along with other treatments. As with psychotherapy, the length of hypnosis treatment varies, depending on the complexity of the problem.