Chronic Pain / Injury Recovery

Athletic injuries can cause significant barriers within an athlete’s life. It is common to see higher levels of stress, negative thinking, fear of returning to sport, loss of identity, change in mood, lack of confidence and motivation, as well as loss of enjoyment in sport. That is where we come in to play. Meeting with a sport psychologist can help support the rehabilitation process, boost mood, and assist in overcoming the mental challenges that are unique to injury. It is normal to experience frustration and/or sad mood along with a wide range of emotions during the recovery process. Learning mental tools and techniques to help you optimize your best self during this time period so that you are more resilient at the end of your recovery period is the ultimate goal. Sports injury rehabilitation is 75% psychological and 25% physiological (Hershman, Nicholas &Thompson, 1990).

How does a chronic pain/injury recovery session differ from an individual sport psychology session?

It depends. One difference might be the specific focus of the session and what is processed, but similar techniques might be utilized (cognitive-behavioral techniques such as relaxation or goal setting; increasing motivation; imagery). For example, a “typical” individual sport psych session might involve the client working on imagery in order to practice a sport-specific skill whereas a client with an injury may focus on healing imagery.

How do the sport psychologists and mindset training coaches approach chronic pain/injury recovery sessions?

We like to get a good assessment of the injury (severity, length of recovery, stage of recovery) and begin to coordinate treatment with other helping professions (e.g., physical therapist), if applicable, to determine progression and readiness for play. Our individual work would involve matching interventions to our assessment of the client recovering from injury.    

How does Premier Sport Psychology supplement other work that clients could get from athletic trainers, physical therapists, doctors, etc.?

What we really do is we complement the work clients get from their other helping professionals. As much as a physical therapist understands the physical components recovery and performance, we understand the mental components of recovery and performance. The mental component of recovery or performance is crucial, just as the physical, technical, or technical components are. We are specialized to provide athletes and performers the support, education, and tools they need, whether it is recovery from an injury, improving performance, or managing mental health issues. The performance enhancement tools typically work in conjunction and enhance the efficacy of other helping professions interventions.  

For more information, check out these links:

When is Enough, Enough? The Costs of Playing Through Injuries
“The Connections Between Emotional Stress, Trauma, and Physical Pain” — Psychology Today