Your initial post should read approximately 250 to 350 words in length and include at least one citation from the bibliography of your textbook chapter, with the accompanying reference in APA format. To receive the maximum points, your post should include a reference from the textbook, an article of your choosing, and one of this week’s ancillary readings.
Choose one of the 11 exercises from the textbook.
Williams, J. M. & Krane, V. (Eds.). (2021). Applied sports psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (8th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 2011, 5, 283-294 © 2011 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Culturally Informed Sport Psychology: Introduction to the Special Issue
Robert Schinke Laurentian University
Zella E. Moore Manhattan College
Sport psychologists work with athletes from a vast array of cultural backgrounds. Numerous factors comprise the cultural composition of both the client and the practitioner, including, though not necessarily limited to, ethnicity, socioeconomic background and status, race, socialization, sexual orientation, religion, gender, and geographic location. These intersecting and often deeply ingrained personal variables can certainly impact the nature of the therapeutic relationship, inter- vention strategies, and intervention outcomes with athletic clientele. Yet, while other domains of professional psychology have long embraced the integration of cultural aspects, the field of sport psychology has been slow to join the dialogue or to learn from these relevant sources. Therefore, this special issue of the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology was conceptualized and constructed with the inten- tion of opening these lines of discussion to help ensure that sport psychologists are gaining a comprehensive understanding of the athletes with whom they work, demonstrating respect for and integration of cultural constructs in the treatment room, and maintaining personal and professional self-awareness. As Co-Editors of this unique special issue, Drs. Robert Schinke and Zella Moore provide the present paper to begin this important dialogue. This paper sets the stage for six informative articles by leading professionals in their areas, including both theoreti- cal articles and articles highlighting culturally informed direct service provision with athletes from around the world. We hope that this timely special issue leads to numerous additional questions, cutting-edge research ideas, and most importantly, an enhanced or renewed commitment from sport psychologists to integrate the concepts found within these pages, and those already found within the profes- sional literature of mainstream psychology, into their daily work with athletes.
Keywords: culture, sport psychology, diversity, athlete, bias, cultural
Robert Schinke is with the School of Human Kinetics at Laurentian University in Sudbury Ontario, Canada. Zella Moore is with the Psychology Department at Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY.
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As sport psychology professionals, we engage with athletes and coaches from a wide number of cultural backgrounds. There are several intersecting pieces that comprise the cultural composition of both the client and the practitioner, includ- ing, though not necessarily limited to, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background and status, socialization, geographic location, sexual orientation, and gender (Comas-Diaz, 2011; Diamond, Butterworth, & Savin-Williams, 2011; Oglesby, 2010). These overlapping aspects of identity add a level of complexity within the client-practitioner exchange that requires attention. In reality, shared understanding is a complex task, and cultural positioning is a very real and existent part of the sport/exercise psychology exchange as we seek to understand and be understood.
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville began some years ago to tackle the complexities surrounding the sport-culture intersection (Ryba & Wright, 2005) through leadership from Handel Wright, Leslee Fisher, and Craig Wrisberg. These individuals have been among the catalysts within an emerging area now commonly termed cultural sport psychology (Schinke, Hanrahan, & Catina, 2009). Despite the leadership of the aforementioned scholars, for the most part, it seems that for a long time practitioners and researchers within sport psychology turned a blind eye to the potential complexities associated with the integration of the “cultural” aspects of sport psychology. Previous authors have suggested that the sport psychol- ogy domain is primarily euro-centric (Parham, 2005, 2008) and mono cultural in its foundations (Ryba & Wright, 2005), meaning, adhering to White-middle class, westernized values. These authors have proposed that one possible reason is the inevitable complexity associated with the formal integration of culture as a part of service. After all, when we speak of culture, we speak not only of the cultural standpoint of the client, but also that of the practitioner (McGannon & Johnson, 2009). Hence, it is not only a matter of understanding the other, but also oneself as a cultural being.
A second potential reason for the lack of attention to cultural aspects within sport psychology stems from a lack of available information to the sport practitio- ner regarding how to work, not only by, but also within, cultures to avoid sensitive stereotyping (see Andersen, 1993; Kontos, 2009; Terry, 2009). As Andersen has described, cultural investigations and practices can easily be oversimplified to the point where findings reduce to gross overgeneralizations. Certainly, there are no definitive approaches to working with athletes with specific skin color; gender; sexual orientation; cultural, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds, etc. After all, there is much more to each of us than these variables, and these nuances cannot be explained by any single criterion (Parham, 2005). This second potential reason also partly stems from sport psychology’s ongoing tendency to disregard the relevant and constant evolution within other domains of professional psychology, such as clinical and counseling psychology, which have long embraced such integration of cultural aspects. Within these domains, guidelines for working in a multicultural and cross-cultural professional manner have existed for decades, extensive literature is accessible, and training possibilities even after licensure are widely available through workshops and continuing education seminars offered by numerous profes- sional organizations. Yet, the field of “sport psychology” has generally neglected to turn to the vast contributions offered by “psychology,” thus likely delaying sport psychology’s respect for and integration of these critical concepts.
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As a third possibility, related to those already identified, it is perhaps easier to proceed in sport psychology service believing that one’s skills “transcend” culture. For readers trained in the traditional sport sciences, perhaps such beliefs have allowed emerging and established practitioners to proceed in their work based upon an educational foundation of well-honed skills gained in traditional sport science courses (Fisher, Butryn, & Roper, 2003; Martens, 1987; Ryba & Wright, 2005). Arguably, when such practitioners acquired these skills, the individual nuances of the client’s and practitioner’s cultural identity(ies) may not have received adequate consideration (with exceptions, of course). Hence, even if theoretically some sound practitioners are fluent in their delivery of interventions, one is left to ponder how that fluency resonates to the eyes and in the ears of the target audience. It is then possible that in some cases, well-honed sport psychology skills are delivered to athletes with views and beliefs that run counter to the intervention, such as in the case of a collectively minded athlete receiving skills that emphasize self-determi- nation and self-concept (Schinke, McGannon, Parham, & Lane, 2011). It should be stated, however, that there are some differences in formal training standards related to cultural competency between many traditional sport science/sport psychology graduate programs and graduate programs in clinical and counseling psychology (from which many sport psychologists are trained). For example, all doctoral level programs in clinical and counseling psychology must provide their students with clear education, training, and experience with a diverse client base, thus helping to ensure a reasonable level of competence in this area (Fouad et al., 2009). In this regard, the American Psychological Association, which accredits these programs, has a very detailed and specific set of standards for multicultural training of doc- toral students in clinical and counseling psychology (and other areas not directly related to this paper). Regardless of these training differences, it cannot be argued that cultural competence is not an option—it is an imperative. This current special issue of the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology stems directly from this imperative and seeks to provide readers with knowledge that can be either directly useful in a practical sense or useful in getting one’s “wheels” turning on this important issue.
The Special Issue on Culturally Informed Sport Psychology
The intended purpose within this special edition is to enhance one’s consideration of this important topic by (a) providing articles that encourage self-reflection and (b) featuring a few examples of practitioners who integrate aspects of cultural practice into their work, specifically nonwesternized approaches. These “aspects” do not necessarily feature coherent approaches to sport psychology, but rather within each context, a beginning. We could have included contributing authors with unique cultural ideas in any region, of course, but for this installment, we chose to include voices from near and far, with the terms “near” and “far” shifting in relation to each piece, relative to the reader. The ideas to come are only a few examples of what we hope will be the continued evolution of culturally informed sport psychology practice, where space is made for individuals to be supported for exactly who they are as cultural beings, through sport and activity applications. Before providing a
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brief overview of the articles included in this unique special issue, we will discuss a few broad elements that informed the present installment.
Cultural Diversity in Sport Contexts Recently, one of the coeditors of this edition (Schinke) was conceptualizing a funded research project about athletes relocated from other countries. As a certi- fied mental training consultant, typically more than half of Schinke’s clients have been born in countries outside of where they currently reside, and as such, they often convey that acculturative stress (see Berry, 1997) is part of their experience within the sport system (Canada, respectively). Subsequently, when Schinke and his colleagues perused the Canadian Olympic Committee’s website and tallied the number of Canadian Olympians relocated from outside of Canada performing in Olympics from 1996 through 2010, they found that more than 15% of the athletes were immigrants—first generation Canadians (see http://www.olympic.ca/en/ athletes/browse/). Taken further, the diversity within the aforementioned country’s national teams exceeded the mere 15% of immigrant athletes, and also included sport participants born in Canada from minority cultures, such as, but not limited to, Canadian Aboriginal athletes (Schinke et al., 2007). Arguably, the Canadian athletic membership reflects a broad diversity of athletes to the point where those from both the majority and minority in terms of various cultural criteria are each an undeniable part of that diversity. And yet, in Canada, little in terms of sport services is formally offered to athletes from that country’s minorities (Schinke, Yukelson, Bartolacci, Battochio, & Johnstone, 2011).
In the United States, more than 31 million residents are foreign born, and more than 75% of Americans identify with a cultural group such as Irish Ameri- can, Mexican American, American Indian, Asian American, etc. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001). All of the cultural subgroups (see APA, 2001) are in some ways similar, though also different from the other subgroups in terms of cultural characteristics such as eating preferences, dress, language, communication strate- gies, religion, etc. Every subgroup can be further defined by tighter subgroups (such as regional differences) within looser subgroups, to the point where the athlete’s identity can eventually be better understood as a series of details that in total comprise her/his cultural experience. There are several layers of cultural understanding that warrant excavation, much like the layers of an onion, to gain a deeper appreciation of the athlete. Extended to sport contexts within the United States, according to the NCAA in 2003, African Americans represented approximately 41% of men’s and 27% of women’s basketball participation. In professional sports, the statistics of athletes from minority populations was once again more than representative of America’s national populations. For example, in 2004, the following statistics highlight the prevalence of cultural minorities: 78% of athletes in the National Basketball Association (NBA), 67% of athletes in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and 69% of athletes in the National Football League (NFL) were African American and 37% of athletes in Major League Baseball (MLB) were Latino, with many of the latter grouping of athletes born in the Dominican Republic. Again, with these gener- alized statistics, the diversity of the client base must be looked at much more closely as belonging to tighter subgroups. There might, for example, be athletes from the Dominican Republic who come from impoverished backgrounds and
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limited education, though also clients originating from middle and upper class backgrounds, where education is likely more prevalent. Such variations would likely alter how the athlete might constitute through language and behavior her/ his identity. Through athlete representation alone, then, we cannot deny that sport psychologists work in a context where clients bring diverse backgrounds to the proverbial table. Given this diversity, sport psychologists are encouraged to learn more about themselves and their intended clientele, thus bringing about a greater capacity to effectively support each athlete’s efforts at performance and overall psychological well-being.
Euro-Centrism and Race Blindness in Sport Psychology Ryba and Schinke (2009) previously proposed that sport psychology has been built from a foundation of White, male, western values, derived from within North America by scholars whose backgrounds often stem from European ancestry. When considering where concepts of the “self” originated, it is worth acknowledging that they began within the academy and the traditional tenet of positivism, a tenet that may not align with the identity of all athletes, such as some Latin American, Caribbean, and North American Indian athletes participating in professional sports (i.e., NCAA, NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL). It is therefore time for a change, as there is an opportunity to enhance practitioners’ willingness to consider more inclusive and culturally sensitive practice philosophies.
Yet as previously noted, while mainstream clinical and counseling psychology began considering the importance of cultural competence and integrating it into education, training, and practice 50 years ago (and APA published its first Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services to Ethnic, Linguistic, and Culturally Diverse Clients in 1990; APA, 1990; Wrenn, 1962), it has only been in the last 10 years that writings about cultural awareness, Whiteness, and White privilege have surfaced within the sport and exercise psychology literature. Ted Butryn (2002) proposed that far too often, people adopt a “race blind” approach in sport psychology, meaning that they treat all athletes the same. Perhaps we often treat people similarly with the hopes of being equitable, but what if that treatment represents the values and practices of a single culture or different culture? Sameness and equality, then, are perhaps two very different approaches, with only the latter making space for a cli- ent’s (and also a practitioner’s) particular characteristic sets (Schinke, McGannon et al., 2011). The practitioner must be aware of the cultural characteristics of both the client and the self, as failure to do so may potentially result in ineffective care that then fails to enhance the performance and/or overall psychological well-being of the client (Comas-Diaz, 2011). In the clinical psychology domain, practitioners have been encouraged to adopt an evidence-based practice model. Therein, much has been written on how to best treat the particular issue/problem faced by the client by utilizing targeted empirically-supported treatments, while at the same time maintaining respect for and consideration of cultural variables. In this regard, there are a number of adapted versions of empirically-supported treatments available for culturally diverse populations (see Comas-Diaz; Muñoz & Mendelson, 1995). Indeed, we are all a series of culture norms just beneath the surface. As Comas-Diaz stated in the clinical psychology literature, “every therapeutic encounter is cross- cultural in nature,” and therefore, “culturally competent psychotherapists enhance their clinical effectiveness” (p. 869; Comas-Diaz & Griffith, 1988).
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Despite a growing series of published work about Whiteness in sport psy- chology, it has been reported that few sport psychology practitioners engage in their work in a manner inclusive of reflective practice (see Anderson, Knowles, & Gilbourne, 2004; Cropley, Hanton, Miles, & Niven, 2010; Knowles & Gilbourne, 2010), in general, and culturally reflective practice, in particular (see McGannon & Johnson, 2009; Ryba & Schinke, 2009). Such sport practitioners appear to serve as a counter point to the emerging applications of culturally informed sport psy- chology. Whether based on lack of knowledge, reluctance toward this reflection, or other factors, as humans, our clients have earned the right to have their personal cultural variables integrated into our work with them. In fact, it has been found in the clinical domain that clients who perceive that their practitioner is culturally competent are more likely to complete treatment and report higher levels of per- ceived satisfaction with the treatment (Comas-Diaz, 2011). This is important, as while diverse clients still tend to achieve roughly the same positive outcomes in therapy as nondiverse clients, non-European American clients are more likely to drop out of treatment than European Americans (Miranda et al., 2005; Organista et al., 1994). We therefore call upon practitioners to begin the process of develop- ing cultural competence, as intervention success cannot occur if we cannot even maintain these individuals as clients.
Culturally Informed Sport Psychology Practice
So what, then, is cultural competence? As reported by Comas-Diaz (2011) in the clinical literature, cultural competence is “a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies . . . that reflect how cultural and sociopolitical influences shape indi- viduals’ worldviews and health related behaviors, and how such factors interact at multiple levels of psychological practice” (see also Betancourt, Green, Carrillo, & Ananch-Firempong, 2003). Within clinical psychology practice, at least, becoming a culturally competent professional includes obtaining sufficient training in specific attitudes, behaviors, and policies that respect the unique and changing nature of both the individual and larger groups (Hansen, Pepitone-Arreola-Rockwell, & Greene, 2000). While it is easy to just tell people they just need to “value diversity,” we are really talking about much more than that. We are talking about (a) formally gain- ing knowledge of cultures and cultural differences; (b) imbedding this knowledge into the employment of techniques and strategies; (c) understanding how issues of diversity can impact the interpersonal (and thus therapeutic) dynamic; (d) willingly being reflective practitioners; (e) warding against taking cultural considerations too far, over-generalizing, and making assumptions that because a client has certain cultural affiliations, they surely live by them and need them to be addressed (as this is stereotyping, too, isn’t it?); and (f) maintaining an commitment to staying abreast of the evolving literature and engaging in ongoing self-assessment and growth in this area.
Specifically within sport psychology, the past 10 years has seen progress, although it has been extremely gradual and cautious. While the task of develop- ing cultural competence may seem daunting, those interested in becoming more culturally informed sport psychologists do, in fact, have guidance in this regard. There are currently several guidelines upon which professionals might hone their culturally informed skills. First and foremost should be use of the latest guide-
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lines on multicultural education, training, research, practice, and organizational change, provided by the American Psychological Association in 2003 after over two decades of work (APA, 2003). This document has outlined guiding principles for professional psychologists, and as such, efforts at enhancing cultural compe- tence should begin with a careful and systematic review and consideration of this comprehensive document. In addition, Kontos and Breland-Noble (2002) echoed the view of Fukuyama (1990) that the practitioner can work with the client based upon (a) a universal approach or (b) a focused culture-specific approach. In the first option, the practitioner considers the general cultural challenges encountered by the athlete, such as language barriers or cultural alienation/assimilation hard- ships. Schinke and colleagues employed a universal approach as part of a research project when attempting to explain the adaptation barriers experienced by Canadian Aboriginal elite athletes pursuing sport in mainstream sport contexts (Schinke et al., 2006). The aforementioned universal topic illustrated one of a myriad of challenges encountered by the Aboriginal athletes, some of which appeared common across minorities, with others that were unique to the given pool of athletes. Adaptation challenges could perhaps serve as an opportunity to exchange parallel experiences with other minority athletes training and performing in the same sport context. As such, the featuring of adaptation challenges through a universal approach opens a space for athletes from minority populations to share their experiences (such as feelings of alienation) in sport and, via conversation, foster greater understanding and perhaps a shared reality with teammates and coaches.
Working exclusively through a universal approach, however, can simplify the athlete’s cultural challenges and views by seeking to parallel them with the experi- ences of teammates and peers. Such a grouping strategy (ending in reductionism) might not be the answer at all and may result in the silencing of an athlete’s voice. Through a focused culture-specific approach, Kontos and Breland-Noble (2002) suggested that the limiting of breadth is offset through an in-depth discovery of the athlete, both as a member of a cultural group and also as an individual within that larger classification. For example, a boxer might be a Latin American athlete, and at the same time may be urban in his choice of clothing, music, and language. The Latino aspect might (and might not) account for a sense of machismo, or col- lectivism, whereas the individuality of the athlete might account for his taste in clothing, music, and friends. Understanding the specific nuances of the athlete in part for her/his uniqueness might then open a space for discussion where topics and choices in wording can facilitate trust and the possibility of a strong work- ing relationship. This middle ground might be constructed through a blending of multiple cultural considerations, in some cases (i.e., when needed) reflecting a variety of relevant cultural practices, into an application that matches the client’s self-stated perspective.
When working from a more specific, culturally informed approach, William Parham proposed an additional set of premises. First, Parham suggested that practitioners begin with an understanding that context is everything. He states that culture is not a fixed concept, but rather, it reflects (and is situated within) a political, economic, and historical moment, such as in the case of Lidor and Blumenstein’s (2009) work with Israeli and Palestinian elite athletes. Within the context, one must ask to what degree the cultural criteria of race and ethnicity are operating. Hence, the integration of context within our understanding of our own
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practices and those of the client, permits us to understand, for example, why one client might trust and another distrust, or whether and how a context is inviting or dismissive of individual uniqueness and cultural diversity. Second, Parham pro- posed that culture, race, and ethnicity as separate indices do little to inform our understanding of the client. Akin to discussions of sensitive stereotyping, Parham proposed that even among practitioners who hold the belief that they are engag- ing in culturally sensitive practice, often, overgeneralizations are being made that reduce clients to a general grouping and counter the aforementioned proposition that there are subgroups within subgroups. Third, Parham suggests engaging in practice and research through various paradigms with the hope that they might not be exclusively anchored in euro-centrism. Schinke et al. (2009) clarified that there appear to be eastern and western approaches to sport psychology (and surely more), and within each, there are more specific nuanced approaches to meet the needs of each client. All considered, it is clear that through an awareness of our current norms as a subdiscipline, and a willingness to integrate the long-standing work of sister disciplines within professional psychology, we now must consider, when appropriate, embarking upon expanded ways of working that involve a much deeper consideration of diversity.
Culturally Informed Sport Psychology as an Opportunity for Reflective Practice Sport psychologists necessarily devote the vast majority of their energy and focus to the client. Since its inception, however, professional psychology has rightfully acknowledged that what psychologists bring to the client-practitioner relationship influences the potency of techniques, the client’s willingness to maintain involve- ment, and the overall intervention outcome (Gardner & Moore, 2006; Moore & Gardner, 2011). Anderson et al. (2004) proposed that “the practitioner is a person first and a sport psychologist second, and in all instances, the personal characteristics of the practitioner will influence how he/she practices” (p. 189). They further sug- gested that by “paying attention to the self, thoughtfully analyzing consultations, and being aware of limitations, self-interests, prejudices, and frustrations, practitioners will be in a better position to manage themselves and their practice effectively” (p. 189). To their words, we add that cultural identity is part of how the practitioner of sport psychology constitutes her/himself; it can work as a form of self-interest, it can bias one’s pedagogical approach, and for certain, if left unacknowledged, it can become a potential limitation in the scope of one’s craft. Therefore, building upon the APA multicultural guidelines and the recent work of McGannon and Johnson (2009), we suggest that sport psychologists integrate some basic recom- mendations into their practice philosophy and strategies. The first suggestion is that practitioners acknowledge (to themselves) their background in relation to education, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and other variables, as these factors are a few examples of what might lead a practitioner to approach sport psychology service in a particular way. For example, one’s choice of wording can be a reflection of socialization and education, and perhaps pertinent words or theories in the mind of the practitioner might be impenetrable or impertinent to the ears of the athlete. Next, we suggested that in addition to understanding our own cultural makeup, we should acknowledge that the client might not have the same cultural makeup or
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have the same viewpoints. It is worthwhile to listen for and then explore how the client’s viewpoints might not align with our own. This will hopefully limit faulty judgments and overgeneralizations. Finally, practitioners should be aware of any potential negative effects of such misalignment or the power differential within the relationship and context.
Conclusion and Introduction to Articles in the Special Issue
Sport contexts are naturally occurring cultural contexts where athletes and psy- chologists bring their own unique and respective cultural identities to the table. Until recently, while other subdisciplines within professional psychology have engaged in a discussion of culturally informed practice for decades, there has been little discussion about how one might engage in culturally sensitive practice within sport psychology. However, even with additional articles, texts, and other forms of discussion, culture, in fact, is not meant to be a special topic or an add-on to the sport psychology literature. Rather, culture is at the center of all that we do. What follows in this special issue, then, is hopefully only the tip of the metaphoric iceberg.
As we self-reflect on this topic and further consider how cultural competence needs to be infused our work, we must not forget to distinguish between the profes- sional relationship with our diverse clients (the delivery system of our work) and the mechanisms of action of our interventions (the active ingredient of our work; Gardner, 2009). As an example, physicians should understand the cultural attitudes, beliefs, and expectations of their patients with regard to both medicine and medical professionals, to best converse with, examine, and prescribe to their patients, and to help them maintain compliance with medical regimens (as cultural competence is also required in medical practice); however, the mechanism of action of (for example) p
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