“What if I get injured?”: An acceptance and commitment therapy approach for fear of injury with a semielite youth snowboarder

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Abstract

We outline the sport psychology service delivery provided to a 13-year-old male semielite youth Snowboarder, who reported experiencing a fear of injury when performing difficult tricks in training. The trainee practitioner used an approach informed by acceptance and commitment therapy that targeted the six core processes (acceptance, defusion, self-as-context, contact with the present moment, values, and committed action) to increase psychological flexibility. First, the acceptance and commitment therapy matrix was used to conceptualize the client’s “stuckness” and provide a foundation for mindfulness and defusion techniques to be implemented. Subsequently, the case reports how focus circles and “thanking the mind” exercises were introduced to increase the client’s contact with the present moment, and to cognitively defuse from the thought “What if I get injured?” Reflections from the client and their father were obtained to monitor and evaluate the service delivery process. The trainee’s reflections on practice also served to highlight the challenges of using acceptance and commitment therapy with a youth athlete, in particular the dominating “control” agenda, which in performance contexts, can be reinforced by the socially inferred narrative that athletes must control internal states as a prerequisite for optimal performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-20
Number of pages9
JournalCase Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • ACT matrix
  • relational frame theory
  • youth
  • snowsport
  • defusion
  • mindfulness

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