Skip to content

Better preparing sports psychologists for the demands of applied practice: the emotional labor training gap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

The aim of this manuscript was to investigate the emotional educational-training-practice gap in the professional formation of sport and exercise psychologists in the United Kingdom through the theoretical lens of emotional labor. Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted with four participant groups: master’s students (n = 5), trainee (n = 5), neophyte (n = 5) and experienced sport and exercise psychologists (n = 5). Adopting an interpretive
epistemology, an abductive thematic analysis was conducted in relation to the participant groups recruited. Several overarching themes were identified in each participant group: (a) master’s students (emotional labor as theory, practice), (b) trainees (emotional labor to survive, a professional development tool), (c) neophytes (emotional labor as a new professional, self-care) and (d) experienced sport and exercise psychologists (emotional labor as a professional resource, lifelong learning). A synthesized list of applied recommendations to improve the professional formation of sport and exercise psychologists was developed based on the analysis. The themes extend sport and exercise psychology professional
development literature and we make recommendations for educators, professional associations and regulatory bodies with regard to: (a) bridging the emotional labor and experiential gap when transitioning between development phases via collaborative and innovative educational provision; (b) supporting the development of skills relating to the enactment of emotional labor, and; (c) considering support mechanisms for student/trainee/neophyte safeguarding and welfare issues as a result of the emotion-laden transactions in professional practice. The implications for future pedagogy, andragogy and research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Early online date15 Feb 2019
Publication statusEarly online - 15 Feb 2019


  • Better preparing sports psychologists

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Applied Sport Psychology on 15/02/2019, available online:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 366 KB, PDF document

Related information

Relations Get citation (various referencing formats)

ID: 13104772