The value of strength-based approaches in SERE and sport psychology

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During the past 2 decades, the psychosocial landscapes of the military and elite sport have drastically changed, with the presence of stress an increasing health and safety concern. For example, in modern warfare, fighters must have the psychological capabilities to counter terrorism and undertake extended deployments in extreme environments against enemies with increasing skills for rapid development and dissemination of information and weaponry via global communication networks. In sport, performers have also reported being affected by globalization, reporting a hazardous array of stressors (e.g., roles, relationships, development issues, and organizational structure and climate) associated with preparation for and performance at major international competitions. The result of such developments is the need for leaders in both the military and sport to better understand optimal performance, and in particular the preparation of their charges, the war fighter and athlete, for the demands of their respective competition arenas. Therefore, in this narrative review we identify strength-based concepts of common interest and potential knowledge transfer in the study of psychology of excellence in the face of adversity between sport and military domains. Specifically, we highlight a value of 6 strength-based concepts for elite performance environments in sport (i.e., Olympic performance) and the military (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Extraction: SERE); mental toughness, positive emotion, learned optimism, resilience, posttraumatic growth, and self- and emotion regulation. In line with this discussion we highlight commonalities and knowledge transfer considerations regarding interventions in these spheres of psychological practice, the potential value of humanism and existentialism, the importance of post career and rehabilitation intervention, and readiness to change and engagement in training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-84
JournalMilitary Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


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