The rocky road to individuation: sport psychologists' perspectives on professional development

Hayley E. McEwan, David Tod, Martin Eubank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
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The purpose of this research was to gain an insight into UK trainee sport psychologists' (TSP) and experienced sport pyschologists' (ESP) perspectives of their professional development by drawing on a counsellor development framework (Rønnestadt & Skovholt, 2012).

A longitudinal qualitative design using semi-structured interviews (Study I) and a multi-interview qualitative design (Study II).

Nine UK TSPs enrolled on the British Psychological Society (BPS), Stage 2 Qualification in Sport and Exercise Psychology (QSEP) participated in Study I. TSPs participated in three individual interviews regarding their professional development during the first 2 years of training. Five UK BPS-chartered ESPs with a minimum of 15 years consulting experience participated in Study II. ESPs took part in two separate interviews regarding their professional development. Study I themes were developed using an abductive thematic content analysis to interpret TSPs' perspectives about their development. We examined Study II data through the lens of the themes generated from Study I.

Participants' development reflected factors that underlie the process of individuation, such as personal interactions with peers and a broadening of influences outside of training (e.g., personal therapy, life experiences). Participants perceived professional development in sport psychology as intermittent and cyclical due to their varied work responsibilities.

Individuation represents a dynamic ongoing process where practitioners attempt to understand better, who they are and the influence they have on service delivery. Individuation can be a deliberate process that can assist practitioners in realising professional satisfaction and meaning.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101542
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date25 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2019


  • training
  • professional development
  • individuation
  • service delivery


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