Clinical sport psychology is an approach to treating athlete performance difficulties and increasing athlete well-being. It was developed by psychologists Frank Gardner and Zella Moore and is presented in their books Psychology of Enhancing Human Performance and Clinical Sport Psychology, as well as numerous articles.
Clinical sport psychology is a holistic approach to working with athletes which emphasizes client development of: (1) acceptance of internal experiences; (2) attention that is present oriented and non-judgmental; and (3)behavior that integrates short-term athletic performance needs with long-term athletic goals.
It is holistic because it operates from the perspective that client functioning cannot be neatly categorized as being “clinical” or as “sport” related, but that each athlete-client’s situation is a unique combination of performance, psycho-social, developmental and other other contextual factors. Clinical sport psychology is based on a movement in behavioral psychology known as third wave behaviorism. It also utilizes elements of schema therapy which is an approach that integrates cognitive-behavioral, object-relations, and gestalt ideas and was developed for clinical work with severe and persistent, multi-problem clients.
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