Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Craig A. Wrisberg


The field of sport psychology has expert performance consultants, but like Statler (2001) pointed out, little has been done to tap into their wealth of knowledge. In fact, most of the research in applied sport psychology has examined the effectiveness of techniques and interventions used in service delivery ( e.g., Greenspan & Feltz, 1989; Strean & Roberts, 1992; Vealey, 1988, 1994), behavior, training, and the ethics of sport psychology consultants ( e.g., Partington & Orlick, 1991; Sachs, 1993). Relatively little attention has been given to the actual experiences of expert consultants practicing in the field. The goal of this study was to put forth a rich description of expert sport psychology consultants' experience of providing sport psychology consultation to athletes. To obtain a meaningful description of the phenomenon, an existential-phenomenological dialogue was used. The phenomenological interview utilizes a single question directing the coparticipant to describe his or her experience. All subsequent questions stem from the discussion started by this one original question. Eleven expert sport psychology consultants were interviewed and asked to describe their experience of providing sport psychology consultation to athletes. After the interviews were completed, the data were transcribed and analyzed using three hermeneutic approaches: group interpretation, idiographic interpretation, and nomothetic interpretation. The results revealed six themes that seemed to characterize these consultants' experience of providing sport psychology consultation to athletes: (1) Enjoyment, (2) Learning, (3) Challenges, (4) Collaboration, (5) Knowledge, and (6) Relationship. The present findings support and broaden previous research suggesting that the interaction of certain techniques, interventions, and characteristics along with certain elements of an individual consultant's style, application, and experience comprise expert performance consultation. The paper concludes with implications and recommendations for athletes, coaches, sport psychology consultants, and researchers in sport psychology as well as researchers interested in phenomenological methodology.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."