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Sports Psychology with Injured Athletes

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Joana Amorim

on 8 January 2014

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Transcript of Sports Psychology with Injured Athletes

Sports Psychology with Injured Athletes

Grief Model
Athletes’ reactions to injuries and the accompanying changes in lifestyle can be experienced as loss, similar to grief reactions in other serious situations. There may be loss of:
- physical functioning (due to the injury);
- loss of identity as an athlete;
- loss os socialization with teammates;
- loss of income.

The Affective Cycle
(Heil, 1993)
First Step
Portray the injury as an objective demand that must be evaluated by the athlete.
Considerations Prior to Planning the intervention
1 - Identification with the
athlete role;
2 - Nature of the injury;
3 - Coping skills of athletes;
4 - Secondary gain;
5 - Social support;
6 - Situational factors.
Stages of Grief
Kubler-Ross (1969) proposed
stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), commonly experienced by individuals after a major loss, also seen in injured athletes.
Second Step
Downplaying or ignoring the significance of the injury and involves an unrealistic belief in rapid recovery.
Athletes become angry at teammates/opponents/coaches/the world/themselves as the reality of the severity of the injury becomes more apparent.
Athletes rationalize or make promises contingent on a quick recovery.
After the futility of bargaining becomes apparent, athletes may enter a period of depression.
If the injury is treated and recovery is seen as a possibility, the athlete starts to accept the injury and its implications and focus switches to more positive steps for recovery.
Emotional responses to injury may not progress in a stage-like manner. This theory proposes a repeating cycle of the affective states of distress, denial and determined coping, where shifts can occur from one to another. One component probably dominates at any given time, but there is constant fluctuation depending
on situational influences and the
cognitive activity of the athlete.
Describes the disrupting and disorganizing impact of the injury on the athlete’s emotional state.
Disbelief and distorting the reality of the severity of the injury.
Determined Coping
Acceptance of the severity of the injury and the injury’s impact on the athlete’s short and long term goals, using effective coping responses and efficiently working through the recovery process.
Appraisal Models
A major shortcoming of the stage models of grief reactions to injury is their failure to account for individual differences in injury perception. To account for these differences in perceptions, models of reaction to injury have been proposed that view the injury as a stimulus or a stressor (Brewer, 1994; Wiese-Bjornstal & Smith, 1993).
Athlete’s cognitive appraisals of the situation and his/her ability to cope with the injury. This cognitive appraisal of an injury can be influenced by two sets of variables, which will interact to influence how the injury will be perceived: personal factors (individual characteristics of the athlete) and
situational factors (circumstances
surrounding the injury and
the athlete’s
2.Nature of the injury:
Injuries can be examined according to five factor: severity, onset, course, history, type.
3.Coping skills of athletes
Coping skills can be divided into three categories: appraisal-focused coping, problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping (Tunks & Bellissimo, 1988).
Psychological Interventions Following Injury
If an injured athlete seeks out assistance from a sport psychologist, what can this athlete expect?
Assessment Considerations
Emotional Response of Athletes to Injury Questionnaire (ERAIQ; Smith et al., 1990).
Intervention Techniques
There are a lot of different approaches that a sport psychologist can take to help the injured athlete, but they all have four common components: education, goal setting, psychological skills training and social support.

This component consists of accurate information gathering and effective communication skills.

Goal Setting –
Rehabilitation goals should be specific and measurable; be stated in positive language; be challenging but realistic; have short/intermediate/and long-term components; be monitored and evaluated; have outcome goals linked to process goals; be personalized and internalized; have sport goals linked to life goals; and have a timetable for completion.
Imagery Training –
Four types of imagery may help athletes cope with their injuries:
mastery imagery
– visualization of successfully carrying out the physical therapy and returning to competition;
coping imagery –
mentally rehearsing anticipated problematic situations and effectively dealing with them;
emotive imagery –
enables athletes to rehearse positive emotional responses to anticipated events;
body rehearsal –
mentally imaging the injury and what is happening during the rehabilitation process.
Cognitive Techniques
The belief systems of injured athletes can hinder the healing process or facilitate recovery: recognizing self-defeating inner dialogues and replacing these with more positive self-talk.
Another cognitive intervention:
coping with pain
. There are two general categories of cognitive pain management techniques:
associative techniques
, that focus on the pain and try to reinterpret/revaluate it; and
dissociative techniques
, more common, involves distraction from the pain.
Social support –
Is categorized into six types: listening, technical appreciation, technical challenge, emotional support, emotional challenge and shared social reality. These sources of support come from a variety of individuals because no one person can provide all these types of support.
Relaxation –
It can physiologically calm the body in situations of great stress. Also, improves blood circulation, which helps to heal hounded tissues.
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