Professional development of sport psychology practitioners: from systematic review to a model of development

Janaina Lima Fogaça, Alessandro Quartiroli, Chris Wagstaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Downloads (Pure)


A clear model of professional development (PD) has the potential to enhance educational and training programs and promote effective, competent, and ethical practice. Scholars have explored facets of the PD of sport psychology practitioners (SPPs) using theoretical frameworks borrowed from counseling psychology. Yet, given the emergence of a sport-specific body of work on this topic, it appears timely to take stock of existing context-specific knowledge. In the present study, we aimed to systematically review the extant literature focused on SPP’s PD to identify specific characteristics and organize this knowledge in an accessible and structured manner in the form of a process model of PD. Following the PRISMA guidelines, we identified 1147 research records in the databases SportDiscuss, PsychArticles, PsychInfo, ProQuest, and PubMed. We subsequently screened and assessed the records for eligibility (i.e., empirical studies published in English that focus on developmental characteristics of SPPs, including a clear developmental stage) reducing the sample of articles that fitted our inclusion criteria to 34 qualitative manuscripts. Finally, we critically explored these manuscripts by engaging in a reflexive thematic analysis and created four developmental phases (i.e., introduction, exploration, solidification, and fulfillment). SPPs’ transition through these phases is seemingly facilitated by four processes (i.e., reflection, supervision, connections and networking with peers, and learning by doing), which also support the completion of the tasks associated with nine developmental elements (i.e., purpose, confidence and anxiety, focus, awareness, adaptability, independence, philosophy/congruence, professional identity, and the individual). We present the interaction of these developmental phases, elements, and processes in the form of a sport psychology-specific process model of PD. We discuss the implications of this model and its potential contribution to future research, supervision, and training programs. Yet, we also acknowledge how a focus on Anglophone and Western cultural contexts and a lack of methodological transparency are limitations of the extant literature.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102550
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date29 Oct 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 29 Oct 2023


  • effective practice
  • professional formation
  • professional practice
  • training

Cite this