I am a Counselling Psychologist and Psychotherapist specialising in supporting mental health in sport. I work with sports people around issues that affect sports performance and emotional and mental well-being.
I have completed research into mental health in sport contributing to a Doctorate in Counselling Psychology. I am also undertaking a PhD in Sport Psychology exploring resilience, fear of failure and psychological safety in football..
I am also a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner for Sports, having trained with Inside Performance. This gives me additional training specific to working with sports people to achieve their performance goals as well as supporting mental health in sport.
Clients I have worked with come from a variety of sporting backgrounds including football, swimming, athletics, cycling, golf, tennis and MMA amongst others.
I work with sports clients to support both mental health and performance.
I work with sports people on issues that are affecting their sports performance, everyday life or coping with retirement/transition from sport. For some clients the work is around sports related issues such as coping with pressure, managing anxiety, maintaining a commitment to training etc, but for others it can be things outside sport – such as relationship problems - which get in the way of giving your best in your sporting career. Often, it’s a combination of these things, and we can work on both sport specific issues and ‘life’ issues in parallel.
Sessions take place online through video call, voice call, email or instant messaging. Wherever your training or competing takes you, we can continue to meet online. I’m also very happy to do face-to-face work where location and schedule permit. You can read articles here about common issues including retirement from sport, fear of success and coping when things go wrong.
Issues I can help with:
• Transitions from sport
• Coping with pressure
• Loss of enjoyment
• Fear of failure
• Competition stress
• Managing anxiety
• Coping with injury and rehabilitation
• Uncertainty about the future
• Alcohol and drug use
• Relationship problems
• Coping with disappointment
• Destructive patterns of behaviour
• Focus and determination
Why have sport psychotherapy?
In recent years increasing attention has been paid to mental health in elite sport. Research shows that while sports people are susceptible to mental health problems such as depression to broadly the same degree as the wider community, there are a number of points when elite sports people may be particularly vulnerable, such as at times of injury, retirement and competitive failure.
While sports participation is known to be beneficial to mental health at a recreational level, the benefits at elite level are complicated by the high-pressure, short-lived nature of sporting careers and a culture (although there is significant variability between sports) that places high value on mental toughness, potentially undermining expressions of distress and support seeking.
Furthermore, in elite sports it is common for someone’s career to dominate their identity. This is unsurprising, given that it is not a job that can be contained within a set number of hours a week, but is instead a way of life, dictating such things as patterns of sleep, diet, and socialising; thereby limiting the scope for development of other aspects of life. Increasingly, promising athletes are siphoned off into clubs at a young age when identity is still being formed, culminating in a sense of self and of self-worth which is tied to sporting performance. It can also be the case that characteristics such as perfectionism, competitiveness and high self-control which can contribute to sporting success can become detrimental as they are expressed in other areas of life.
Sports organisations frequently make use of sports psychology to prepare mentally for the challenges of competition. However, there is increasing recognition of the need for therapeutic input to support athletes around issues affecting their emotional health. Sports psychotherapy/sports counselling can help athletes expand their tolerance of difficult emotions, and to broaden their self-identity so they can find value in themselves beyond their sports performance, whilst also supporting their sporting goals.
Sport psychotherapy helps you resolve any issues that are getting in the way, either of your commitment to training, or how you handle the pressure of competition. For others, sport is the area of life that's going well while it's life outside of sport that is problematic. We can work on whatever you are finding difficult whether it is sport or other areas of life.
It’s not about messing with your head. I know you don’t want to mess with what’s working – neither do I. This work isn’t about getting rid of things that make you good at what you do, but helping you use your emotions in a constructive way to help you do better in sport, and in life.
What you tell me is confidential. There are rare situations when it won’t be. That’s if I’m worried you’re going to hurt yourself or someone else. If that happens, I might need to talk to your GP or other professionals.
Sometimes it’s a good idea for me to talk to your coach or other people involved in you reaching your sporting goals. We’ll agree together about this. We might agree that I don’t talk to them at all, or we might agree that we meet up all together from time to time to see what we need to learn from each other to get you at your best.