People may undergo hypnosis in order to address all manner of problems—from addictions, like mine, to emotional trauma. There’s some evidence that it could be an effective tool in dentistry, treating eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, and helping with pain during childbirth. But despite its prevalence, there's still ample confusion about what it actually is, sometimes even among those who've already committed to it. I certainly had no idea what I was in for as I relaxed into my superlatively uncomfortable chair, ready for, well, something. Or maybe nothing.
“Learning hypnotherapy does not commit you to drastically changing your therapy practice,” says hypnotherapist Catherine Reiss. “The training will allow you to more quickly and effectively get to the cause of your clients’ unwanted behaviors and the feelings they present with it, but it also facilitates the use of trance in more traditional formats.”
With the above in mind, you should first understand that sports psychology is really an interdisciplinary science. Besides psychology, it is also concerned with disciplines such as biomechanics, physiology, and kinesiology. As a definition, the American Psychological Association’s Division 47 (Society of Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology) states the following:
We have created the two-year part-time Ashridge Masters in Executive Coaching in response to the emergence of executive coaching as an established and distinct profession within the international field of individual and organizational development. Our aim is to raise the standard of coaching both professionally and ethically. The program draws on theories from complexity science, sociology and psychology to come to a distinct understanding of organizations and hence the role of both coaches and clients.
With the growing popularity of coaching, many colleges and universities now offer coach training programs that are accredited by a professional association. Some courses offer a life coach certificate after just a few days of training, but such courses, if they are accredited at all, are considered "à la carte" training programs, "which may or may not offer start to finish coach training," according to the ICF. Some "all-inclusive" training programs accredited by the ICF require a minimum of 125 student contact hours, 10 hours of mentor coaching and a performance evaluation process. This is very little training in comparison to the training requirements of some other helping professions: for example, licensure as a counseling psychologist in the State of California requires 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. However, the ICF, for example, offers a "Master Certified Coach" credential that requires demonstration of "2,500 hours (2,250 paid) of coaching experience with at least 35 clients" and a "Professional Certified Coach" credential with fewer requirements. Other professional bodies similarly offer entry-level, intermediate, and advanced coach accreditation options. Some coaches are both certified coaches and licensed counseling psychologists, integrating coaching and counseling.
Mark Hall, a professional hypnotherapist and licensed social worker, was well aware of that, of course. He quit smoking many years ago himself—he says he still remembers reaching for a phantom lighter that wasn't in his pocket—and he has been holding sessions like these for more than 20 years, aimed at convincing others that they can do it themselves. Typically his hypnotherapy sessions cost around $150, or $95 with insurance coverage, but this event, sponsored by the Sanborn Foundation for the Treatment and Cure of Cancer, was near my home, and open and free to the public. In other words, there was no reason not to go, except, perhaps, a question that had been frightening me all week as the meeting approached: What if it doesn't work? Or, maybe even worse: What if it actually does? Then what the hell am I going to do? As crazy as it sounds, smoking is such a major part of my daily routine, the prospect of losing it is scary.
There are a few other important points to make about getting a graduate degree in sports psychology or a related Psychology area. First, every graduate program has unique requirements. Before you jump into applying to a program make sure you have done your homework and thoroughly checked out the program. Second, if you plan on getting a doctoral degree it is likely the case that you will be required to complete a one-year internship where you will get additional training in an applied setting. For more info about a graduate degree in sports psychology go to careersinpsych.com. Third, it is always to your benefit to stick with graduate programs that are accredited by the American Psychological Association. For example, certain jobs require that you were trained at an accredited school. Fourth, it is to your benefit to be certified as a sports psychologist by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Fifth, if you complete a counseling or clinical program you will almost surely apply for licensure. You will need to meet your state’s educational and training requirements and passed a comprehensive exam. Being licensed is very important, not only to be able to work with clients and be employed in various position, but also because only when you are licensed can you legally call yourself a “psychologist”.
Self-talk refers to the thoughts and words athletes and performers say to themselves, usually in their minds. Self-talk phrases (or cues) are used to direct attention towards a particular thing in order to improve focus or are used alongside other techniques to facilitate their effectiveness. For example, a softball player may think "release point" when at bat to direct her attention to the point where the pitcher releases the ball, while a golfer may say "smooth stroke" before putting to stay relaxed. Research suggests either positive or negative self-talk may improve performance, suggesting the effectiveness of self-talk phrases depends on how the phrase is interpreted by the individual. However, the use of positive self-talk is considered to be more efficacious and is consistent with the associative network theory of Gordon Bower and the self-efficacy tenet within the broader Social Cognitive Theory of Albert Bandura. The use of words in sport has been widely utilized. The ability to bombard the unconscious mind with one single positive phrase, is one of the most effective and easy to use psychological skills available to any athlete.
Look for a hypnotherapist who is a member of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) or the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. To be a member of either of these organizations, a hypnotherapist must have a doctorate level degree in medicine, dentistry, or psychology, or a master’s degree in nursing, social work, psychology, or marital/family therapy plus a specific number of hours of approved training in hypnotherapy. In some cases, accredited, doctoral-level practitioners of alternative health care, such traditional Chinese medicine, may also be approved for membership. Of course, in addition to looking at qualifications, you should also find a hypnotherapist with whom you feel confident and comfortable in a therapeutic relationship.