The Self-Practice of Trainee and Accredited Sport and Exercise Scientists (Psychologists): Do We Practice What We Preach?
Objectives It is widely accepted that reflective practice is an important component of continued professional development, and effective consultation, within sport psychology. Many researchers, and practitioners, appear to have adopted varied methods (e.g. concept mapping, metaphors, and drama) to facilitate reflection. Within the clinical psychology context the self-practice of cognitive techniques has recently been proposed as a method of not only facilitating reflection and self-awareness, but also for enhancing ‘professional artistry’. Thus, as reported by some researchers a deeper sense of knowing’ might result from self-practice of cognitive techniques. It is these practice issues that researchers within sport psychology have recently their attention toward. Yet, to date, there is a dearth of research relating to self-practice within sport psychology. This paper presents the preliminary results from an ongoing investigation which initially sought to identify whether UK-based sport psychologists engage in self-practice and, if so, how this influences their practice. Design A qualitative approach was used in order to develop ‘thick-description’ of participants’ experiences of self-practice. Thus, it was possible to investigate the topic, and clarify views, in a manner which may not be possible using other methods. Method Fourty-five sport psychology practitioners were approached, and fourteen volunteered to participate. Subsequently each participant took part in a semi-structured interview conducted via telephone for convenience. A handset connecter (Retell Ltd) was used to enable interviews to be recorded on a digital voice recorder (Olympus WS-560M). Results All recordings are currently being transcribed to allow thematic analysis, and a more complete set of results will be available in the near future. However, initial scrutiny of the data suggests that there are clear differences in the use of self-practice depending upon the background and training of practitioners. For example, those with a clinical/counselling background tended to have incorporated self-practice to a greater extent. As reported in existing literature, amongst these practitioners it was felt that self-practice afforded greater empathy with clients, a wider repertoire for psycho-education, an enhanced understanding of change processes, and a deeper sense of self-awareness. Some practitioners from a non-clinical/counselling background also spoke of engaging in self-practice, but not to the same extent. However, these practitioners also felt that they benefitted from engaging in this practice. Conclusions Whilst reflective practice is an integral component to gaining both BASES accreditation and BPS Chartership, self-practice does not appear to used consistently amongst practitioners.