Part of being an effective sport psychology and mental health professional is staying in contact with colleagues in order to support each other and exchange ideas. CBT SoCal’s Dr. Jason von Stietz is the co-chair of the Los Angeles County Psychological Associations (LACPA) Sport Performance Special Interest Group (SIG). Dr. von Stietz recently hosted a networking meeting attended by a professionals who specialize in working with athletes to help with either their mental health or their performance.
Do athletes need help with social justice issues?
They discussed issued relevant to an athlete’s experience such as social or racial justice. For example, many athlete’s experience racism or other forms of bigotry both on and off the field. Mental health and sport psychology providers must be prepared to discuss these issues without bringing their own implicit biases into the session. Athletes often need help processing their emotions surrounding these issues in order continue to perform their best.
Do athletes struggle with addiction?
They also discussed the impact that addiction can have on the lives of athletes. There is an enormous amount of pressure to succeed placed on professional athletes. At times, they can resort to stimulants or performance enhancing drugs to give themselves a competitive edge. Then, following a performance, they might resort to using alcohol or other substances to help themselves to relax enough to fall asleep. This can easily become a vicious cycle requiring the help of an addiction specialist.
Do athletes who seek help for mental health or sport psychology issues still face stigma?
Another topic of discussion was the continuing stigmatization of mental health and sport psychology. Although views have been steadily changing, many athletes still consider seeking help to be a sign of weakness. Mental health and sport psychology professionals must continue to engage in outreach in hopes of breaking down the stigma. In time, athletes might begin to view mental health therapy and sport psychology training no differently than physical therapy and strength and conditioning.
Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA. He provides online therapy (telehealth) by way of the Torrance office and is available for a free initial phone consultation. Dr. von Stietz works with individuals from Long Beach, the greater Los Angeles area, and the South Bay including Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo and all over California.