Margie Sugarman is a leading board-certified psychotherapist and sports consultant based in New York. Margie’s desire is to enhance performance through the connection between the mind and body, and her current client list includes Olympic, professional and amateur athletes across the country. Her experience employing various therapeutic modalities has helped equestrians win classics, junior medals and grand prix. Do you have a question you want Margie to answer? Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think I could benefit from speaking with an equine therapist. What sort of things should I look for in an equine/sports therapist?
A sports therapist helps amateur and professional athletes enhance their performance, overcome issues and achieve their goals. Unlike coaches, who mainly focus on the physical side of the sport, a sports therapist deals with the athlete’s mind.
When an athlete has a problem that impacts their performance, like anxiety or losing focus when having to perform, they often turn to a sports therapist. The sports therapist then teaches the athlete techniques to help them overcome mental blocks or challenges.
You have to feel comfortable and be able to open up when speaking with the professional. You should never feel judged.
Here are some qualities you should look for when determining if a particular sports therapist/consultant is right for your needs:
- Patience: A good sports therapist is patient. They realize that it takes time to change the mind/body connection. Establishing a different or new perspective when addressing an issue takes time.
- Compassion: A good sports therapist must be able to empathize with an individual’s difficulties. They should make it easy for the athlete to share what’s going on.
- Interpersonal Skills: A good sports therapist is able to work well with all types of individuals. Some athletes are much more outgoing than others. The professional must be able to cater to a variety of personalities.
- Communication Skills: A good sports therapist has excellent oral communication skills and can effectively relate the necessary techniques to address the athlete’s presenting problem.
- Open-Mindedness: A good sports therapist is open-minded and innovative. They are able to adapt and use varied techniques to help the athlete address and cope with their challenges.
- Education: Depending on the athlete’s presenting problem, a higher level of education might be important for a good sports therapist to have. Often there are underlying psychological issues that exist and impact an individual’s ability to perform. Without the proper education, helping these athletes might not be possible.
- Personal Experience: A good sports therapist has personally experienced the stressesof competitive sport. They can relate to and understand the dynamics that impact one’s ability to perform under pressure.
There are all types of individuals in the field of sport psychology. Personalities have to mesh. Get some referrals from other riders who have used someone and found them helpful, but remember, there are many flavors of ice cream, because not everyone likes vanilla.