• Group Proposal

      McCarthy, Francesca
      Throughout my entire athletic career, spanning from the ages of 6 to 22, I heard coaches talking about mental toughness. Mental toughness was much more than playing your hardest when you were tired or pushing yourself to do extra shooting drills after practice. What I learned was that mental toughness meant avoiding the trainer when you were hurt, hiding injuries that could keep you from playing, and continuing to play no matter how your body was feeling. This attitude permeates athletic culture. Athletes are trained from the beginning of their careers to bury anything that could prevent them from being able to participate. That philosophy bleeds into other parts of their lives, including mental health. Breaking into this population to better understand the variety of difficulties they face can be complicated because of athletes’ tendency to underreport symptoms (Martinsen & Sundgot-Borgen, 2013). Along with the years of physical training, they have also been psychologically trained to mask their pain. Due to this training, it is important for athletes to receive the mental health care that they need. College athletes are especially at risk. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on college athletes to play through any difficulties, because their tuition often relies on their performance. Along with this pressure, their transition out of sports can be incredibly difficult. After retirement from athletics, athletes may experience identity crisis, loss of self-worth, decrease in self-esteem, decline of life satisfaction, emotional problems, alcohol and drug abuse, problems building new relationships, occupational troubles, and physical difficulties such as injuries and dietary problems (Erpic, Wylleman, & Zupancic, 2004). The development of group therapy services for college athletes who have completed their final season of college athletics and who are preparing to graduate from college would be beneficial for athletes in any sport. These services would be available to the athletes throughout their transition out of sports. The group would focus on the difficulties traditionally experienced by athletes going through this challenging transition. Taking advantage of their years of athletic training, the group services would be stylized like a typical athletic practice.