Essential competencies in contemporary applied sport psychology: Comparative perspectives from South Africa and the United Kingdom
Investigation of essential competencies in present-day sport psychology practice is critical to keeping the training, education and regulation standards of applied sport psychology (ASP) practitioners at the forefront of research (Fletcher & Maher, 2013). Moreover, investigation is also needed to offer a new rationale for promoting academic inquiry in developed and developing contexts. This study identified essential competencies in contemporary sport psychology practice and explored the comparative views of a purposefully selected sample (n=9) of expert ASP practitioners/psychologists. Data were gathered by means of semi-structured interviews with stakeholders in South Africa (SA) and the United Kingdom (UK). Interview data were analyzed using thematic content analyses. Main findings suggested that a relational and dependable character, a client-centred focus, an all-encompassing counselling skills-set (facilitative and restorative), and explicit expertise in the domains of psychology, sport and sport science are indispensable to current sport psychology practice. Views generated by both stakeholders were remarkably similar and overlapped considerably, which indicated the advanced levels of sport psychology praxis in both contexts. It was recommended that behavioural indicators (personal character) and certain skills prerequisites merit special consideration for candidates entering ASP training and practice. An interdisciplinary training model in ASP with acquired competency in both kinesiology and psychology-based training should become the accepted standard in the training and development of practitioners for the purpose of garnering an inclusive capacity to render client-centred services.
Keywords: Applied sport psychology (ASP), competencies, contemporary practice, practitioners
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