Having left another meeting with potential clients lamenting the fact that I had to again explain what being ‘qualified’ as a sport psychologist actually means, I think it is time for action. There is still much undermining of the profession that is taking place due to poor communication and dare I say it marketing. In the UK, as in other countries the dilution of the key messages that occurs through too many different organisations having a stake is constraining the professions development.
We have a Uk regulatory body (Health and care Professions Council) who, current evidence suggests do nothing more that take the registration fees of those who are qualified. Yes, they produce the guidelines for what ‘qualified is, but fail to ‘police’ the profession as was originally hoped. There is the British Psychological Society who are busy pushing the agenda of psychology, but fail to recognise the needs of sport and exercise psychology. There is the BPS and BASES at logger heads about how to get qualified, while the majority of ‘qualified’ practitioners emerge from the BASES training route.
All of which means that the clients have not got a clue about who they should employ, and what these practitioners should do. There are many who are protecting the interests of a specific group within the profession without really taking a global view of the profession in the UK. There are multiple registers of approved practitioners, but where to go for the best practitioners?
We, as a profession need to turn over a new leaf. There needs to be greater collaboration, and greater action. The HCPC register, as in other professions such as physiotherapy, should be the gold standard for practitioners. Everyone who is looking to employ a sport psychologist should know that this is where to look? But how to achieve this? well everyone, to use a well worn team-focused saying, should be ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’! The BPS should be helping to promote the HCPC gold standard as well as the values of being BPS chartered across each of the protected title domains. BASES should be doing the same for Psychology-focused practitioners. Currently the question here would be why would BASES do that? Well the way to achieve this is to develop a BASES route through to HCPC registered status as well. Offering two routes through to the same end. This would help to provide greater clarity and consistency in the profession. yes, this new route would need to meet the same HCPC criteria as the BPS are required to do, but would help reinforce the one ‘gold standard’ requirement, which should be HCPC registration.
This could usher in a new age of collaboration with better provision for aspiring sport and exercise psychologists, and also better continued professional development support for qualified practitioners. But, returning to the start of the blog, it would finally mean we, as a profession, could with confidence let the clients know who sport and exercise psychologists are and where to look for them!