In Consultation

In Consultation

Got Game? How I Transitioned My Practice to Sport Psychology

By Mitchell Greene

September/October 2017

Q: After being in private practice for many years, I’m considering a new clinical specialty in sport psychology. Do you have any tips?

A: When I contemplated making a similar change, my wife wondered if I’d lost my marbles. “Why would you want to become a sport psychologist when you’re finally busy and making money! Why stop now?”

But as I thought about the next several years of my life, I realized that two things mattered most to me. First, I was interested in finding a niche that would take me out of my comfort zone and get my juices flowing. Otherwise, why bother? Second, I wanted to distinguish my practice from what everyone else in my office—and most of the therapy community—was doing.

As a lifelong athlete who enjoys doing 12-hour team endurance challenges and running marathons, it made sense to move toward a specialty area that applies what the field of psychology has learned about motivation, cognition, visualization, emotion, and behavior to help athletes. Today’s sport psychologists counsel players at all levels, including pros. These “mental coaches” might get to sit at the end of their basketball team’s bench during games or wear their football team’s official logo, and it still excites me that my work brings me so close to live sports action.

There are plenty of similarities between my clinical and sport clients in terms of the work we do. In fact, my training in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT),…

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