Preferred Name

Christopher E. Bilder

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Gregg Henriques

Robert Harmison

Cara Meixner


The purpose of this sequential explanatory mixed methods study was to identify the use, development, and perceived satisfaction of current theoretical paradigms by sport psychology practitioners. Participants for the quantitative portion of the study were 170 (95 women, 65 men) sport psychology practitioners.

Results of a frequency analysis revealed that most practitioners use an integrative paradigm type, and the most commonly used paradigms were CBT, ACT, and humanistic. A descriptive analysis revealed that theoretical paradigms are developed across all developmental levels. Independent between-groups ANOVAs indicated that primary training background significantly impacted the principles perceived to be necessary (i.e., sport science vs. psychology) in a theoretical paradigm for sport psychology. Frequency and descriptive analysis revealed that the vast majority of practitioners were satisfied with their theoretical paradigm. Contingency table analyses signified the that number of years practicing in the field positively impacted theoretical paradigm satisfaction, and that practitioners who perceived their theoretical paradigms addressed important concepts were more satisfied with their theoretical paradigms.

Participants of the basic qualitative portion of the study were four (2 women, 2 men) sport psychology practitioners who were at least somewhat satisfied with their theoretical paradigms. The within-case and across-case theme development revealed three meta-themes (i.e., “Depth and Complexity”, “Lifelong Learning”, “Client Impacts”) that spanned participants experiences of the use, development, and satisfaction with their theoretical paradigms. Twelve other themes emerged from the data analysis that aligned with the use, development, and satisfaction with theoretical paradigms. Four themes diverged from the original research questions that pertained to the state of theoretical paradigms in the field of sport psychology: (1) “Shortcomings in the Field”; (2) “Shortcomings with Education”; (3) “Research on Paradigms”; and (4) “Ambivalence about Development of Paradigms.”

Overall, the findings of the present study suggest that practitioners are currently satisfied with their mainly integrated paradigms, but there is a noticeable need in the field to continue to improve and standardize the formal development of theoretical paradigms in graduate training. There is also a visible need for the development of a theoretical paradigm specific to sport psychology that includes both principles of psychology and sport science.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.