A qualitative exploration of neophyte sport psychology practitioners self-care experiences and perceptions

Daniel R. F. Martin, Alessandro Quartiroli, Christopher R. D. Wagstaff

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Scholars from the psychology and mental health professions have previously identified the value of self-care for enhancing practitioners personal and professional well-being, and fitness to practice. Despite these advances, self-care in sport psychology practitioners has received limited attention from scholars, with the few extant studies investigating senior practitioners’ self-care. As such, there currently exists little understanding of how neophyte practitioners understand, experience and enact self-care. In the current study, we aimed to better understand SPP self-care early in individuals’ professional development. Grounded in ontological relativism, we recruited 18 self-identified white neophyte SPPs residing in the United Kingdom (12 females and 6 males), aged between 24 and 52 years (Mage = 31.94, SDage = 7.81), to take part in semi-structured interviews in which we explored their experiences of enacting self-care during their training. Five main themes were constructed following a reflexive thematic analysis of data. These themes were: (a) What self-care means to neophyte SPPs, (b) The cornerstones of self-care, (c) What facilitates neophyte’s self-care, (d) The self-care hurdles that neophytes face and (e) The self-care actions that neophytes implement. These findings contribute to the nascent body of literature exploring self-care within SPP populations and serve to better illuminate neophyte SPPs’ understanding of self-care and how they perceive their interactions with the profession to impact their ability to enact self-care. The current lack of emphasis on self-care in SPP training pathways and employment settings as well as key considerations for the development of greater self-care awareness within current and future neophyte cohorts is discussed.

Lay summary: In this study we explored the self-care experiences of 18 neophyte Sport Psychology Practitioners (SPPs). Analysis of interview data identified the meaning of self-care to neophyte SPPs, the key mechanisms, such as self-awareness, that underpin self-care as well as the facilitating and challenging aspects related to engaging in self-care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-896
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date11 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


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