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Comparing Sport Psychology and Clinical Psychology

This paper aims to critically analyze the learning experience by reflecting on two areas of psychology: the sport psychology and clinical psychology. To begin with, my reflection will be based on how my lecturer in sports psychology led me to question my preconception about clinical psychology in sports psychology. My review will then address the major lessons acquired based on how my prejudices affect my way of thinking, especially in class. Secondly, I will vividly discuss the clinical psychology role, especially in sport psychology interventions. Also, I will address how I have realized that I might be perhaps interested in a corporate psychology career.

One of the significant key reflection areas in sports psychology comprises referencing clinical psychology. According to Howell & Buro (2015), clinical psychology can be described as whatever most people think of someone working in the field of psychology. This is because clinical psychology involves working on a one-on-one bases with people helping them to achieve a higher mental health level. It comprises the counselors, the psychiatrists, the therapists, or the psychologists who directly work with an individual or a family unit in order to discover any mental problem, prepare a treatment plan that will help in solving the issues especially the ones dealing with anxiety, bi-polar disorders, depression, schizophrenia, and other mental health issues so as the victims can live a happier and satisfying life. In essence, my reflection is majorly captivated by the presentation in sports psychology for two main reasons identified as the interactive display and my interest in psychology and sports. In this regard, sport psychology can be defined as the scientific practice and investigation of addressing the optimal well-being and performance of the athletes, the social and development aspects of the participation in the sports, as well as the systematic issues allied to the organizations and settings of the sport.

Essentially, I engaged in a reflective practice while in the lecture, especially when the lecturer opened an open discussion regarding the existence time of clinical and sport psychology. Though I am currently undertaking coursework in clinical psychology, I have not yet connected between clinical psychology and sports psychology. And therefore, when the lecturer raised the question, I became contemplated how clinical psychology was influenced by humanistic approaches on how these, in the long run, became and currently remain separate epistemological, theoretical, and methodological approaches (Chang, 2009). Indeed, it raised arguments claiming that clinical psychology is much more of an empirical investigation of the virtues and strengths making human beings flourish. In contrast, the humanistic approach is a spawned variety of movements involving self-help in its person-centric emphasis. However, my reflection while in action was interfered with by the lecturer’s statement saying that sports psychology has prior been using clinical psychology, making it a methodological and theoretical construct (Friedman, 2008). This means that sports psychology also recognizes, implements, and encourages the traits and behaviors promoting the athletes’ flourishing and success.

However, the reflection also contains an understandably adverse reaction to the clinical psychology notion being the sports psychology premise. In one particular moment, I thought that the lecturer was utilizing the perspective or single-lens reflecting on the same, the reflection I believe I was being shut leaning (Harding & Hare, 2000). Reflectively, I understand that my nearby mindedness was because an association with sports brain science had not been introduced to me in clinical brain research; consequently, my psyche would have instead not handled the proof (Howell & Buro, 2015). However, this little experience of comparing clinical and sports brain research endured only minutes; on reflection, it was a disclosure in my way of dealing with understanding new data. For the model, this little learning gave an exceptional understanding of the need to keep a receptive outlook and use various focal points or unique reasoning while moving toward new ends at college (Geranto, 2011). Maybe I could likewise restrict my doubt in deciphering contentions. In aggregate, this experience has caused me to understand that there is something else to learn regardless of how much I think I know.

Sport psychology and clinical psychology works hand in hand because both of them primarily work on addressing the assessment and treatment of all the behavioral problems and psychological distress, especially interpersonal issues among the coaches, the athletes, the support staff and the members of the family (Howell & Buro, 2015). Clinical sport psychology being an intersection of sport and clinical psychology addresses anxiety, trauma, depression, interpersonal problems, various eating disorders and a wide range of mental health issues. Being an emerging area in psychology, clinical sport psychology has substantially grown in the past few decades having new research focusing on the psychological and behavioral well-being of the athlete. Though the athlete performance can be affected by psychological distress, the clinical and sport psychology does not focus on that. It instead focuses on the causes of the psychological distress and working towards fostering increased flexibility psychologically. As the distress subsides, the performance of the athlete is usually enhanced.

Based on the little knowledge gained while comparing sport and clinical psychology, I have learned that sports psychology teaches people the techniques and skills that will help in improving the endurance, the motivation and the performance. This may comprise the use of visualization techniques, both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and other mental training that will be of help to the athlete. Both amateur and professional athletes seek or even apply sport psychology whenever they are in need of assistance in coping with competition pressure as well as recovering from combating burnout or injury. While clinical psychology especially being applied in sport uses clinical mental healthcare techniques. I have learned that clinical psychology in sport focuses on the athlete suffering from depression or even substance use and need help from a clinical psychologist specialized in sports, which occurs when the problem affects the performance of the athlete (Howell & Buro, 2015). I learned that a clinical sport psychologist will assist the athlete and train their mind on how to succeed while at the same time addressing all the mental health issues affecting them especially in their lives outside athlete.

Conclusively, the learning experience afforded to me was delightful, primarily the sports and clinical psychology. I believe that my original sports psychology connection developed most likely due to my interest in psychology and sports. However, by comparing sports and clinical psychology, I was able to go deeper into this area of perception of psychology. Besides, though the class did not specifically address clinical psychology, however, using self-directed reflective and learning practice, I have come to my understanding and realization that I might be interested in a clinical psychology career. Further, I have learned about the need to maintain an open mindset that utilizes different divergent lenses of thinking and limits my skepticism to succeed in the university successfully. All the experiences acquired have made me understand that no matter the amount of knowledge I think I have received over the years, there will always be something new to learn about.


Australian Psychological Society. (n.d.). Sports and exercise psychologists. Retrieved from

Chang, C. H. (2009). Handbook of sports psychology. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Geranto, B. D. (2011). Preface. In B. D. (Ed.), Sports psychology (pp. vi-xiv). Hauppauge, N.Y.: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Friedman, H. (2008). Humanistic and positive psychology: The methodological and epistemological divide. The Humanistic Psychologist, 36(2), 113-126. DOI: 10.1080/08873260802111036

Harding, P., & Hare, W. (2000). Portraying science accurately in classrooms: Emphasizing open‐mindedness rather than relativism. Journal of Research in Science Teaching: The Official Journal of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, 37(3), 225-236. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1098

Howell, A. J., & Buro, K. (2015). Measuring and predicting student well-being: Further evidence supports the flourishing scale and the scale of positive and negative experiences. Social Indicators Research, 121(3), 903-915. DOI :10.1007/s11205-014- 0663-1


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