There is an intense mental toll of reaching—and remaining—at the pinnacle of a sport. “The top six inches of the body matter just as much the rest,” says Matthew Cunliffe, a sports psychologist, who spoke with Quartz about what goes through the minds of elite athletes and how psychologists can help them win. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
"I am qualified and experienced to help people cope with or resolve a wide range of challenges, including dealing with grief, depression or anxiety, working on relationship issues, making important decisions or transitions, recovering from injury or illness, working through current or past trauma and diagnosing and/or treating psychiatric and cognitive disorders. As a Psychologist with a subspecialty in Neuropsychology, I see a wide range of clients, including adolescents with developmental disorders or other troubles, adults struggling with emotional challenges or dealing with life's stressors, or individuals who have experienced neurologic or other types of illnesses."
Mansfield could neither comprehend nor cope with the attention she received once promoted to the role of boss. While most managers would view the schmoozing and lobbying for attention that her reports engaged in as office politics, Mansfield saw these attempts at currying favor as trial balloons that might lead to dating. She was not being sexually harassed; Mansfield was merely experiencing interpersonal advances that threatened the protective fortress she had erected against feelings of intimacy. The better Mansfield managed the men in her division—and the more her constructive feedback improved their work—the more intimate they appeared to become as a natural outcome of their appreciation.
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.
However, as you look towards the future, the world of executive coaching may take on a new shape. There may be more automation or a stronger focus on mental status or the psychology aspect of your career. As the executive coaching industry continues to grow, so does the number of ways in which this niche is going to change in the not-so-distant future.
I work with athletes and performers at every level, from novice and recreational to elite and professional, so the situations that I address are constantly evolving, bringing different challenges each day. I may give training to an entire team, meet with an individual client at my office, or observe a client at practice or at a competition. I may speak with their coaches or families; it just depends on what we are trying to accomplish. We work on developing the mental side of their game and performance. This involves building skills in areas such as focus, concentration, motivation, goal-setting, managing intensity, overcoming performance obstacles, stress management, and learning how to perform optimally even under pressure. We also address issues such as performance anxiety, burnout, lack of confidence, recovering from an injury, and handling performance pressures that come when new levels of achievement are attained.
During my work with Ashridge, my coach has encouraged me to develop my own personal brand and leadership style with confidence. His insights and experience have been highly beneficial with the right level of support and challenge to push my boundaries outside of my comfort zone. I highly respect his passion for coaching and strongly advocate his approach.
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.