Psychological Counseling

While mental training is huge in providing sports psychology services, psychological counseling is indispensable when there are clinical issues such as depression, anxiety or other distress, or simply when the athlete or other high performer wishes to discuss aspects of life that go beyond sports. It would be unnatural in a normal sports psychology relationship to not talk about anything more than sinking a putt better or throwing a pass under pressure. Issues always come up, so it is imperative that the sports psychologist is trained in psychology and knows how to detect problems when they occur. It is why the license to practice psychology is so important.

Psychological counseling is also called psychotherapy or talk therapy, and it does not presume any particular methodology or theoretical orientation. There are excellent sports psychologists who might be Freudian or more dynamic in their approach to therapy, but most these days who work with athletes, including Dr. John F Murray, prefer to use a mostly cognitive-behavioral approach in working with clients. It helps to pull from other approaches when needed based on good practice guidelines, and this is probably best for the client and the style John F Murray uses most.

To best illustrate the need for counseling, think about a pro athlete getting ready for a big game who just went through a divorce, or who recently lost a parent. The distraction potentially caused by these life events need to be properly managed in order to allow the client a free mind and a more optimal performance. There might also be addiction issues that need to be resolved and that require the person to kick a bad habit like drinking, smoking or over-eating. The treatment might have nothing at all to do with mental skills training, but would be based on more general counseling principles.

In sum, sports psychology is a broad-based science and practice that must incorporate both mental training and psychotherapy to be most effective and to provide the client one-stop shopping and the highest standard of care.