CC-AASP consultants’ Experience of Spirituality within Sport Psychology Consultation: A Diversity Issue?

Trevor Egli, University of Tennessee, USA

Theme: Social and cultural diversity

Program ID: LEC-10B

Presentation: October 4, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am

Room: Jasperwood


According to Watson and Nesti (2005), the scholarly investigation of spirituality within sport psychology is lacking. Recently, within cultural sport psychology (Schinke & Hanrahan, 2009), a discussion of spirituality has been initiated; however, it has not received the same amount of attention as other aspects of culture that impact sport performance and mental well-being (Butryn, 2002, 2010; Duda & Allison, 1990; Kontos & Breland-Noble, 2002; Krane, Waldron, Kauer & Semerjian, 2010; McGannon & Busanich, 2010). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to interview nine AASP-certified (CC-AASP) consultants who have encountered spirituality in their practice. A semi-structured interview guide was developed using a modified version of Gilligan and colleagues’ (1989) Listening Guide. Hatch’s (2002) political analysis was also used to identify metaphors and major themes found in the transcribed interviews. Results suggest that one major metaphor, The Consulting Relationship as a House, as well as four major themes of spirituality as (a) Portal; (b) Athlete-Driven; (c) Coping Mechanism; and (d) Christianity as the Norm emerged from the data. While consultants appeared to have difficulty defining spirituality, of import was building relationships with athletes similar to building a “house”. Trust began by digging a solid “foundation” and having doors and windows representing “portals” into athletes’ use of spirituality. For these consultants, spirituality within consultation was always initiated by athletes. Consultants felt that athletes used spirituality in their performance most as a coping mechanism when facing adversity. Christianity was the norm in terms of athlete usage in performance. Some consultants used spirituality to ground their own practice. Spiritual identity development models (e.g., Watson & Nesti, 2005) and cultural sport psychology practice models (e.g., Fisher, Roper, & Butryn, 2009) are linked to the discussion. Suggestions are also given for how to engage in this conversation during the training of sport psychology consultants.

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