Science Committee recognizes a model training site

Learn why the Science Committee recognizes the Springfield College Athletic Counseling program as a model training site

In keeping with our charge to: "Collect information on model training sites and/or training and research sites that are engaged in noteworthy activities, report these for mention in the Division newsletter and archiving on the website", the Science Committee would like to recognize the Springfield College Athletic Counseling program as a model training site.

Athletic Counseling Program At Springfield College

1. What is the name of your program?  Athletic Counseling

2. When was your program created?  1981

3. What significant markers have there been for your program?

a. The Athletic Counseling program was the first of its kind designed to train graduates to be academic athletic advisors or athletic counselors working in a variety of settings.

b. The Athletic Counseling program has sponsored a conference to bring well known speakers from the US and abroad to Springfield for over 25 years (the first conference was held in 1983). Dr. Al Petitpas has attended (and hosted) each of these conferences.

c. In 2007, the Athletic Counseling program faculty and staff in conjunction with other Springfield College faculty created the Center for Youth Development and Research. The center was created to provide consultation, training, evaluation, and research for organizations that promote and foster youth development services and research.

d. Faculty in the program have worked with students and faculty at Springfield College and other institutions on research projects and grants funded by such organizations as the Amelia-Peabody Foundation, The First Tee, Montreal Alouettes, National Basketball Association, National Football Foundation, National Football League, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institute of Mental Health, Project Rebound, and the United States Tennis Association.

4. What, if any, were significant contributions to the field of Psychology which derived from your program?

a. The Athletic Counseling program faculty authored the sports counseling competencies for the American Counseling Association.

b. The Athletic Counseling program is one of the only programs to provide graduate level training from a psychological perspective for students interested in working with athletes.

c. Athletic Counseling faculty have been honored by the American Psychological Association's Division of Exercise and Sport Psychology (Division 47), winning national awards for Distinguished Contributions to Applied Exercise and Sport Psychology (AI Petitpas 2000), Distinguished Contributions to Exercise and Sport Psychology in the Public Interest (Judy Van Raalte, 2006), and Distinguished Contributions to Science and Research in Exercise and Sport Psychology (Britt Brewer, 2007).

d. Athletic Counseling faculty have held leadership positions in national and international organizations including Judy Van Raalte (past-president of the American Psychological Association's Division of Exercise and Sport Psychology, past Vice-President of the International Society of Sport Psychology, current Chair, Sport Psychology Council) and Burt Giges (past president of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology). e. Athletic Counseling faculty and students have authored hundreds of peer reviewed journal articles, presented research at professional conferences on 6 continents, and authored and edited books. They have also produced a line of videos for sport psychology practitioners and competitive athletes available at

A sampling of published books include:

Brewer, B. W. (Ed). (2009). Sport psychology: Olympic handbook of sports medicine. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Van Raalte, J. L., & Brewer, B. W. (Eds.) (2002). Exploring sport and exercise psychology, 2nd Ed. Washington,
DC: American Psychological Association. (a third edition of this book is in the works)

Fazio, R. J., Van Raalte, J. L., & Burke, J. M. (2002). Living with loss: The journey through September 11th.
Closter, NJ: Hold the Door for Others, Inc.

Van Raalte, J. L., & Silver-Bernstein, C. (1999). Sport psychology library: Tennis. Morgantown, WV: Fitness
Information Technology.

Petitpas, A., Champagne, D., Chartrand, J., Danish, S., & Murphy, S. M. (1997). Athlete's guide to career planning.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

5. What aspects of your curriculum make you a model training program?

Athletes at all levels are faced with increasingly difficult academic, psychosocial, and athletic challenges. The goal of the Athletic Counseling Program is to provide graduate students with a preparation in counseling, psychology, and the sport sciences that will enable them to provide support services to athletes in a variety of settings. The core competency of the Athletic Counseling curriculum is counseling skills. All students gain applied experience in practicum lab classes in both general and athletic counseling and extensive supervised fieldwork experiences. The Athletic Counseling program is updated and modified annually based upon trends in the field and feedback from past and current students and colleagues. The Athletic Counseling Graduate Program offers students:

  • Intensive study of the various psychosocial factors affecting athletes at all levels of participation;

  • Counseling and career development preparation in classroom, laboratory, and on-the-job settings;

  • Exposure to the latest in motivational and skill enhancement techniques;

  • Research opportunities in the areas of sport psychology and athletic counseling;

  • Practical knowledge in the use of sports as a tool to enhance life skills.

6. What aspects of your practicajfield placements/applied work (including supervision) make you a model training program?

Athletic Counseling students and faculty work with individual athletes, teams, and sports organizations. In their first year, most athletic counseling students are paired with a second year mentor to work with teams and athletes. This format allows first year students to gain applied experience early in their training and enables second year students the opportunity to serve as both athletic counselors and site supervisors/mentors. All Athletic Counseling students participate in group supervision with AASP certified consultants, who are listedw in the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) sport psychology registry. All Athletic counselors keep detailed records of their applied work, and regularly present case studies. By the end of their training, most Athletic Counselors have gained experience working with men's teams and women's teams, individual sports and team sports, teams on the Springfield College campus and teams off campus, college age teams and teams in other age groups, sports that they know a lot about and sports that are new for them.

7. What direction is the program going; let's say 5 years from now? The Athletic Counseling program offers a master's degree (or Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study) in psychology.

The program has adapted training and curriculum to meet the changing needs of students and the job market. For example, courses have been added to address professional issues in athletic counseling and provide training in lifeskills and performance enhancement in recent years. Trends in the field include increased opportunities working with athletes but also military personnel, business executives, and people in other high pressure occupations.

Springfield College plans to offer students a PsyD degree in Counseling Psychology with concentrations in Athletic Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Marriage and Family Therapy starting in the fall of 2012. Five years from now we expect to see our first PsyD graduates gainfully employed in the workplace.

If you have suggestions for a future Model Training Site Report, please contact Mark Aoyagi.