How To Become A Sport Psychologist In The UK

On our global directory of Sport Psychologists we have some of the most experienced Sport Psychologists in the UK. Becoming a Sport Psychologist in the UK is a very rewarding profession, and in this article we will outline the training undertaken to become a Sport Psychologist. The consultants who list on our site offer a range of psychological support. For example, this can involve helping athletes develop their psychological approach to competition (e.g., by enhancing confidence, stress management and maintaining focus), or other issues include helping athletes recover psychologically from injury and mange the psychological demands of retirement from sport. When working with teams a focus may be aiming to enhance cohesion and help individuals in the team work together effectively and efficiently.


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In the first part of this article we will discuss what it takes to become a recognised sport psychologist in the UK. We will then move on to discussing other professional pathways that people may have followed to be in a position to offer sport psychology related advice. 



What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Sport Psychologist?


To become a sport psychologist you will need to complete a recognised undergraduate degree in psychology leading to graduate basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). If you do not have GBC after your degree then you can complete a conversion course to obtain this. Once GBC is obtained, whether by degree or by conversion course, you then move on to complete a masters degree accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). This is often called stage 1 training on the way to becoming a sport psychologist. There is a comprehensive list of stage 1 accredited masters degrees on the BPS website. There is then the Stage 2 training which is a minimum of two further years of psychology study and training in sport (and/or exercise) psychology. Part of this psychology training will involve supervised experience working with athletes, as well as a research study. You can see more about the BPS accredited pathway to becoming a sport psychologist here. Successful completion of this Doctoral level training will mean that you can register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a Practitioner Psychologist and use the protected title Sport and Exercise Psychologist. 


You can also choose to undertake a Professional Doctorate at a University which are accredited training pathways by the Health and Care Professions Council. Current Universities offering professional Doctorates include:


There is  also a second route to becoming a Sport and Exercise Psychologist. This is the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) Sport and Exercise Psychology Accreditation Route (SEPAR). Again this is a similar route for individuals with post-graduate qualifications in sport and/or psychology and includes supervised practice to ensure the candidates are able to work autonomously in sport and exercise environments. The length of time it takes to complete the SEPR route does depend on where the candidates are in relation to their past experience, and also whether they hold the necessary underpinning psychological knowledge, but it is proposed to be between 2 and 4 years. 


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The only people who can call themselves a sport psychologist, sport and exercise psychologist or exercise psychologist, are those individuals who are registered with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a Practitioner Psychologist and through the training routes outlined can use the protected title Sport and Exercise Psychologist. The individuals listing on our directory only use one of these protected titles if they have completed the training routes outlined. 


Alternative Sport Psychology Related Provision


There are also other qualified mental health professionals who are working in sport. For example, counsellors can provide an opportunity for athletes to talk about issues that may be troubling them and/or affecting performance. These issues may be emerging from their personal lives as much as their lives in sport. A counsellor offers a safe, confidential, non-judgemental place for athletes to discuss any issue. There are many different types of approaches that a counsellor could take and you can find out more information about the different approaches here. While there are many different types of counsellors it is the relationship a counsellor has with the client, rather than the approach adopted, which mostly determines the whether seeing a counsellor is helpful or not. Professional bodies that regulate counsellors in the UK include the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or the UK Council for Psychotherapy.


There is a growth in sports psychiatry with a special interest group being established. Sport Psychiatrists are medically qualified and as such come under the General Medical Council and are involved in working with athletes around both mental health and performance related issues. 


Finding a Sport Psychology Professional 


Whatever your need and whatever your location I am sure our extensive directory will have a sport psychology consultant who can help you achieve your goals. before working with anyone always check and clarify their qualification and professional expertise. Remember, the only individuals in the  UK who can call themselves a Sport Psychologist are those who are HCPC registered and this will be clear on their individual profile.  


If you are embarking on your journey to becoming a sport psychologist then we wish you all the very best in this rewarding profession. You can find out about people's experiences of becoming sport psychologist here.


If you are qualified as a sport psychologists, counsellor or psychiatrist and wish to list on our site then please see our range of excellent membership packages. 


If you are looking for the services of a sport psychologist, or sport psychology professional, then please click on the link below to take you to our global directory.  


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