April 24, 2012
Certification enhances professor’s sport psychology instruction
Northwest Missouri State University is now home to one of the five certified sport psychologist consultants for the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) in Missouri.
Dr. Linda Sterling, assistant professor of psychology, sociology and counseling, has obtained the highest credential possible for sport psychologists.
AASP is the premier international, multidisciplinary sport and exercise psychology organization. In the seven-state region surrounding Missouri, there are just 16 sport psychologists certified through AASP.
While the certification adds to Sterling’s credentials in sport psychology, it also gives her a broader range of tools she can incorporate into her classroom instruction. Sterling learned new skills and techniques through mentors, who are leaders in the field: AASP President Jack Lesyk and Angus Mugford, the head of the mental conditioning division at IMG Academies, a premier multi-sport training facility for all types of athletes in Bradenton, Fla.
“With sport psychology being a newer field, it’s important that current professionals get certified,” Sterling said. “It shows employers and consumers that it’s important, as well as students entering the field of sport psychology.”
Sterling had been working toward the certification since 2005, when she completed her doctorate in sport psychology at Kansas University. The rigorous path to certification includes coursework in counseling, psychology and sport science as well as an internship totaling 400 hours of client contact.
To fulfill her internship requirements, Sterling worked with Northwest teams as well as individual student-athletes, something she’ll continue to do with her certification.
Additionally, last fall Sterling and Jennifer Pratt-Hyatt, assistant professor of psychology, sociology and counseling, conducted a study with beginning runners from the Northwest and Maryville communities. Part of the study involved sport psychology skills training to help the runners achieve their goals of completing a 5K run at the end of the nine-week study.
“It’s great for the classroom because I can use that applied work to provide examples, which the students like,” Sterling said. “The theory, of course, is central, but you also need to have the application, and it gains students’ attention.”
Sterling’s certification also enhances Northwest’s new sport psychology minor, which the University expects to be popular among students. Already, 29 students have enrolled before the program could be listed in the University’s undergraduate catalog.
Approved by the Northwest Board of Regents in May 2010, the new minor in sport psychology is an interdisciplinary program of the departments of Psychology, Sociology and Counseling, and of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
The new 24-hour interdisciplinary minor provides a blend of knowledge about physical activity as well as the psychological factors that influence sport, exercise and wellness. The minor includes 12 hours of required “core” courses and six hours of electives from psychology and physical education.
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