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Sports psychologists in private practice are few and far between. Some sports psychologists work part time for other sporting organisations, such as AFL football clubs, but these are usually on a contract basis. Private practice is usually part time, and supplemented with other jobs such as coaching, lecturing, career counselling, organisational psychology or welfare work. There are some full time or permanent jobs, usually attached to the Institutes of Sport. Typically, the work is not office-based, but at the club, track, stadium etc. It is quite a relaxed environment - communication with clients often takes place in a more open, casual environment in which it would be easy for friendships to develop.
My path to Sport and Exercise Psychology has not been so straight forward. After my first degree I worked in industry as a manager of a team of full-time, part-time and casual staff. This led me to observe how group dynamics operated in an organisational setting. After taking a sabbatical for a couple of years abroad, I came back to Australia looking for new challenges which included heading to Deakin University to study psychology. Fortunately the supervisor (Dr. Lucy Zinkiewicz) for my thesis had similar interests as mine, and I was able to tailor a sporting ‘bent’ to it.
While I was studying I kept up my interests by attending state and national conferences in sport psychology, which gave me a greater understanding of the field and an opportunity to network with staff from universities as well as practitioners in the industry. I also wrote editorials for the Geelong Advertiser regarding prominent issues in sports psychology, which allowed me to further develop my writing skills.
Once I have completed my Masters degree I will be starting my own consultancy firm and practicing, one of the quirks of Sport and Exercise psychology is that there are relatively few jobs that are ‘offered’ here in Australia hence you need to be a self-starter/entrepreneurial, so the study phase is also where strong networks are formed. There are always opportunities to travel abroad and work in the field also.
The other option that may be taken concurrently while starting up the firm is to complete a Phd in the field, but we shall see what happens. Personally I feel it’s best to leave yourself open to any possible opportunity.