CBT SoCal therapists are often asked to share their expertise with schools, organizations, and communities. Dr. Jason von Stietz was recently invited to speak to a high school sport psychology class taught at Campbell Hall. Campbell Hall is a K- 12 all gender private school located in Studio City in Los Angeles. The school’s mission is to create community of inquiry and academic excellence nurturing decent, loving, and responsible humans. The school encourages its community members to join in the Episcopal tradition of valuing knowledge gained through questions over asserting answers.
What does a sport psychologist do?
Dr. von Stietz met with the high school sport psychology class to give an overview of his work as a sport psychologist and answer any questions from the students. For example, he discussed his work doing individual sessions with athletes or performers suffering from severe performance anxiety. He discussed the benefits of using imaginal exposure exercises in which athletes repeatedly visualize worst case scenarios that cause them great distress. Allowing themselves to think thoughts that they usually try to block out helps to raise underlying anxiety to the surface until the athlete is desensitized to the thought and is no longer influenced by it. Once the athlete no longer experiences severe performance anxiety, they can return to focusing on visualizing success and no longer need to engage in imaginal exposure exercises.
How do sport psychologists help teams with athletes who only care about their own “stats” rather than the success of the team?
Dr. von Stietz discussed his use of improv comedy games and other team building games that help athletes to work together as a unit. When athletes have trouble working together as a team in their sport that same problem will most likely show up in any other activity. Therefore, when Dr. von Stietz has the team participate in a silly improv comedy game it helps athletes to address their areas of growth in a fun, non-judgmental environment. In turn, this helps them to work together better in practice and then in competition.
Athletes of all ages and abilities can benefit from working with a sport psychologist. Contact us to learn more about how sport psychology can help you.