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FEPSAC invited session: The development of expertise and competencies of applied sport psychologists in Europe

Post by Urban Johnson.

Post by Urban Johnson.

The local organizers of the ECSS Congress 2015 in Malmö will endeavour to increase the number of sessions and presentations – of all kinds – within the Social Sciences & Humanities area. To that end we will utilize the blog to present some of the sessions, and later presentations, in this area.

The invited session The development of expertise and competencies of applied sport psychologists in Europe is chaired by Dr. Uran Johnson, Halmstad University in Sweden, and the presenters are Paul Wylleman, Vrije Universiteit Brussel,  Chris Harwood, Loughborough University, and Vana Hutter, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Within the field of applied sport psychology (ASP), interest in professional practice is growing, and we are faced with the challenge of developing not only our professional status but also the competencies and level of expertise of providers. In three presentations, this symposium will highlight the latest research and the most salient aspects of ASP support provision in general, and the expertise and competencies required and used by ASP support providers, in particular.

Paut Wylleman, Chris Harwood and Vana Hutter.

Paut Wylleman, Chris Harwood and Vana Hutter.

In the first presentation, Professor Paul Wylleman from Free University, Brussels, Belgium will present “The Professional Development of the ASP Practitioner.” Using a qualitative methodology, 12 ASP providers were questioned about their competencies. Respondents felt novice professionals should attempt to acquire self-knowledge, knowledge on how to (initiate) work with people, and competencies with mental skills. Knowledge of (the requirements of) sport was related to mature ASP practitioners. Counselling, communication, and social/interpersonal skills were deemed important throughout the career. Diagnostic skills was more linked to the novice professional, whereas being able to work individually, use and learn from experience, and provide supervision were linked to the experienced professional.

In the second presentation, Associate Professor Chris Harwood from Loughborough University, England will present “Working Effectively in Youth Sport: Reflections of a Lead Sport Psychologist.” Childhood and adolescence are key stages within which psychosocial skills and identity are developing in young sports performers. In this presentation, the Lead Psychologist (with 18 years of experience) of a National Federation and a professional youth soccer academy will offer his reflections of the competencies required when working in youth sport settings. The synergy of humanistic and cognitive-behavioral approaches to sport psychology will be discussed along with the significance of self-concept, self-identity, and self-regulation to the health of the talented young person in sport.

In the third presentation Dr Vana Hutter from University Amsterdam, the Netherlands will present “Becoming a Competent Practitioner in Sport Psychology: Typical Challenges and Effective Learning Experiences.” Novice sport psychologists struggle with many challenges during their training and first professional steps. Analyses of 369 questions which novice sport psychologists asked their supervisors during supervised practice resulted in a model of supervisory issues in applied sport psychology. From this model implications are drawn for the education and training of sport psychologists. The methodology used is applicable to the education and training of other professionals in sport sciences, and therefore of interest to educators in (applied) sport sciences.

Urban Johnson
Halmstad University

Invited Session: Sport for Development and Peace – Critical Perspectives


Post by Niklas Hafen.

The local organizers of the ECSS Congress 2015 in Malmö will endeavour to increase the number of sessions and presentations – of all kinds – within the Social Sciences & Humanities area. To that end we will utilize the blog to present some of the sessions, and later presentations, in this area.

The invited session Sport for Development and Peace – Critical Perspectives is chaired by Cora Burnett, University of Johannesburg, who also is one of three presenters, the others being Simon Darnell, University of Toronto and Lyndsay M.C. Hayhurst, University of British Columbia.

The last decade, especially since the United Nations launched the Millennium Development Goals, has seen a significant expansion in the use of sport as a means to initiate social change throughout the world. Projects (governmental and non-governmental) involving sport have included attempts to educate young people about health concerns, discourage anti-social and criminal behaviour, increase gender-awareness, as well as assisting with reconciliation of communities in conflict (Levermore & Beacom 2009). Scholars have referred to this trend as Sport for Development and Peace (SDP), which implies the intentional use of sport, physical activity and play to attain specific development and peace objectives around the world (Darnell 2012; Kidd 2008). One of the features of recent research in the field of SDP has been inter-disciplinarily, with scholars from management, sociology, education and policy studies all asking important questions and producing significant findings and criticisms. While this trend illustrates the growing depth of the field, it also has the potential to create silos within the research community, particularly between a monitoring & evaluation (M&E) approach on the one hand and critical analyses on the other.


Cora Burnett, Simon Darnell and Lyndsay Hayhurst

In his presentation “Approaching ‘Sport for Development and Peace’ as an Inter-disciplinary Project”, Simon Darnell attempt to reconcile these perspectives in productive ways. He suggests that M&E-focused research can inform a critical understanding of SDP by analysing the development effects of sport, both positive and negative. Vice versa, a critical sociology of sport-for-development – using, for example, macro theories of political economy and post-colonialism – can inform and improve SDP policy and practice by highlighting inequalities and challenging historical amnesia. Cora Burnett’s presentation “Local voices, sense-making and agency in the ‘uptake’ of ‘Sport for Development and Peace’ projects in Africa” follows an inductive approach with clustered themes of real-live experiences and ‘uptake’ from local constituencies. Issues of ‘empowerment’, ‘development’ and knowledge production are discussed and linked to methodological challenges. Various case studies will serve to mediate local voices as programmes inevitably have intended and unintended consequences, resulting in resultant socialization processes of exchange and agency. Finally, Lyndsay Hayhurst´s presentation “Making Transnational, Cross-Cultural (Dis)connections in Sport for Development and Peace: Exploring Multi-sited Social and Power Relations” draws on multi-sited, transnational and cross-cultural empirical studies of SDP conducted over the past years in order to highlight the importance of exploring complex social and power relations translated through diverse actors and contexts. Throughout the presentation, Hayhurst consider the ways that global and cultural flows – and multiple connections – expand across transnational SDP and ‘hold it together’ against the diverse forces of disparate social locations, interests, identities and access to resources.

Niklas Hafen
Dept. of Sport Sciences, Malmö University