Throughout my initial education as a sport psychologist I was treated to a constant diet of four main approaches to working as an applied consultant: cognitive, behavioural, humanistic, and psychodynamic. At the same time I was taught that in sport-psychology the most common approach was cognitive-behavioural, and pretty much instructed that that is the way that it should be, and how I should work.
I also find it interesting that I was taught about the psychodynamic approach like it is one mode of practice, but on closer inspection the range of registered therapies under this umbrella is surprising. In the UK alone there are over 400 different variations of psychotherapy that are approved for public consumption. So maybe it is less about which therapy club you belong to and more about how you use it.
In sport we are seeing a generation of applied practitioners who are not so bogged down in this history, who are willing to employ a wide range of approaches and techniques to elicit the required behavioural, emotional, and cognitive changes. Increasingly existentialists, psychodynamicists, and positive psychologists are far more common. There are consultants who embed eastern philosophies, meditation, and mindfulness comfortably into their practice.
So, sport psychologists should not feel constrained by the historical focus on cognitive-behavioural approaches and instead develop an approach that works for them. On my part, I would say that these days I am a positivist, cognitive-humanist . . . . . now they definitely didn’t teach me about that one at University!