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Aug 18

Behind the Scenes at the Olympics: Sports Psychologists and Positive Psychology

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology , Blog , Elite Athletes

I am so proud that my emerging field of “Sports Psychology” is always on display during the Olympics, as the US teams each have sport psychologists who specialize in their sport.

Now, I apply the exact same techniques for sales, HR, and Financial Professionals.  The article below was written by psychologist, Rodney L. Lowman.  He says it better than I can.

– Dr. Jack Singer

Guest Post by Psychologist Rodney L. Lowman

They christened themselves the “Final Five” in recognition that they would be the last U.S. gymnast team coached by Martha Karolyi, who will be retiring after the 2016 Summer Olympics after coaching gymnasts through 11 Olympic contests. As the required routines progressed, the U.S. gymnastic team’s scores became nearly insurmountable, winning 12 of 12 routines. The team beat out its closest rival, Russia, by a whopping 8.209 seconds.

Outstanding Olympic Athletes

All of the members of the gymnastics team were superstars delivering dramatic, near-flawless performances, but one, Simone Biles, particularly stood out. She has been dubbed the best gymnast ever but was not born into a life of privilege. Her single mother (now clean and sober) gave up her children due to drug addiction; her father, also an addict, had abandoned the family. Adopted by her maternal grandparents and subsequently raised in Houston, Biles owns more Olympic and world gold medals than any other female gymnast ever. She is 19.

There’s more. The “Final Five” (Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman) work together remarkably well as a team. They get along with and support one another, celebrate each other’s victories and console their misses.

Then there are the swimmers Ryan Phelps, age 31, and Michael Lochte, 32, having won to date 25 and 11 Olympic medals, respectively. And let us not overlook Kristin Armstrong, who turned 43 today, and who just made history by winning her third gold medal in timed cycling.

[Tweet “Guess who’s working behind-the-scenes at the #Olympics? #Sports Psychologists!”]

Behind-the-Scenes Champions: Sports Psychologists

We rightly credit the Olympic winners for their victories but behind the scenes are a myriad of coaches, trainers, medical staff, supportive families, and yes—sports psychologists. Little known fact: the U.S. Olympic Committee includes a Sport Psychology Team. It’s now become widely accepted for athletes to have a sports psychologist or performance coach.

Sports psychology is not new. Coleman Griffith worked in the field in the 1920s. Today, sports psychologists use a variety of techniques with athletes: relationship building, arousal regulation, mental imagery, focus-building and goal setting, enhancing self-efficacy and resilience, self-talk and support. Athletes, who face extraordinary stress and high stakes, where fractions of a second determine outcomes, perform better with psychology.

Many contemporary sports psychologists such as Joan Steidinger (running and cyclist), Gio Valiante (golf), and Caroline Silby (running and triathlon) were themselves accomplished athletes. Others, like Steven Bucky, have been counseling NFL athletes for years.

Positive Psychology Can Improve Your Career Too

All of this work reflects a move in psychology to focus on performance and achievement not just deficit and dysfunction. This is often called the positive psychology revolution, whose founders include Donald Clifton and Martin Seligman (“Learned Optimism”)—and those before them like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow who concerned themselves with human happiness and well-being.

Salutogenesis – the promotion of health and well-being – is rapidly becoming an important theme in psychological research and Psychology is a remarkably broad field and its premiere professional organization, the APA, and its Division 47, Society for Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology, reflect that diversity.

Aug 30

How to Choose the Right Therapist for You

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , General

Choosing a therapist who is the right fit for you can be a critical determinant of whether you will be able to resolve your problems or not.

Here are some basic tips to help you in the selection process. 

How to Choose the Right Therapist for You by Dr. Jack SingerGet a referral from someone you trust.  Believe it or not, your physician may not be the best person to ask for a referral to a competent therapist.  The reason for this is that many physicians refer to people who refer back to them, regardless of the competency of the therapist!  So, if you really do want the name of a therapist from your physician, be sure to ask if he or she has had patients who reported excellent progress with that therapist.

Often, a good referral source is a family member or friend who has had excellent outcomes working with a particular therapist.

Check on the therapist’s credentials. Make sure you’re considering a therapist who is licensed in your state and has passed national licensing examinations.  Therapists come in a multitude of specialties, from Masters level family and marriage therapists, to licensed clinical social workers, to licensed psychologists.

Unlicensed practitioners can call themselves psychotherapists, therapists and counselors, so be careful to only choose a licensed therapist.  No one can use the title of “psychologist” without a license.

Therapists have different specialties and experience levels.  Depending on your issues (such as relationship issues, eating disorders, sports performance, chronic illnesses), you can easily locate therapists who actually specialize in those issues.

Interview therapists via phone before making this very important decision. A good therapist will be willing to speak to you over the phone before you commit to an appointment.  Don’t be hesitant to ask questions, such as the following:

  • How long has he or she been in practice?
  • What is his or her area of expertise?
  • What methods does he or she use to treat patients?
  • What is the typical length of treatment?
  • Does he or she accept your type of insurance?

Don’t be afraid to ask the therapist about where she/he went to school.  You can quickly determine which schools have higher academic standards and you are generally better selecting one who went to a well qualified school.

Another advantage of that initial phone call is to make sure that you feel comfortable and safe with this person.  Be sure to inquire about the confidentiality issues that the therapist is bound by.

If you do your homework, in selecting a therapist, there is a much greater probability that your therapy experience will be wonderful!

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California.

Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis