Psychologists increasingly work in college athletics departments, however, many more such departments could better serve their athletes by employing a licensed psychologist along with physicians, physical therapists and athletic trainers on their health-services teams, noted sport psychologists at the first annual Psychological Issues with Collegiate Student-Athletes Seminar Feb. 4-5 in Indianapolis.
At the conference, the psychologists focused on educating National College Athletic Association (NCAA) officials about the expertise psychologists can bring to college athletics. For example, sport psychologists' particular knowledge of mental illness and behavioral problems could aid coaches in identifying student-athletes with problems, including eating disorders, stress and depression, noted participant Chris Carr, PhD, who consults for the athletic departments of Indiana's Purdue University.
Additionally, he and other sport psychologists discussed common problems experienced by student athletes--such as performance anxiety--and discussed how to tackle such issues in tandem with the medical team.
The conference attendees hope to continue educating college athletic departments on the potential role of psychologists, says Carr.
"We are going to write a 'white paper,' which provides a summary of the seminar. We wanted [the NCAA] to understand that there are licensed psychologists who have training and competency in the area of sport psychology, thus making them an excellent resource for providing psychological care of the student-athletes," Carr says.