Channeling the Athlete Within: Clinical and Ethical Considerations in the Practice of Peak Performance and Sport Psychology

By Lehigh Valley Psychological & Counseling Assoc. (other events)

Friday, March 9 2018 1:00 PM 4:15 PM

"Channeling the Athlete Within: Clinical and Ethical Considerations in the Practice of Peak Performance and Sport Psychology" by Dr. Ian Birky, Director of Lehigh University Counseling and Psychological Services

Increasing numbers of counselors are discovering the joy of working with specialty populations such as athletes.  Although there may be little difference in how counselors provide treatment and/or consultation regarding the presenting issues of depression, grief & loss, heartbreak, performance anxiety, or peak performance requests of clients, counselors may maximize their effectiveness working with athletes and performers on their case-loads by developing specialized competency in peak performance and sport psychology.  Developing an expertise in working with athletes and performers can provide opportunity to connect with and provide services to individuals who might not otherwise utilize counseling services.  Greater numbers of counselors recognize that contact with coaches, trainers, and other athlete-referral sources provides connections to clients of color, clients from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, and athletes struggling with too seldom revealed mental health issues that might not otherwise enter the domain of the counselor.  Professionals who have interests in entering the exciting world of sport may benefit from guidance in how best to negotiate the fluid and non-traditional boundaries inherent in working ethically with athletes in the locker room, at practice, by the “bench” and before or after the game. The present session seeks to introduce participants to the pleasure, value and benefits of developing a sport psychology friendly and ethical-sensitive practice with clients identifying themselves as “athlete”. This workshop provides an opportunity to identify key issues counselors may face when treating athletes in their practice. This workshop will also provide an opportunity to discuss intervention and consultation strategies from an athlete-attuned perspective.  Ethical issues that sometimes arise and must be addressed with this specialty population will be discussed.


  • Attendees will increase their knowledge regarding the value of, benefits of, and pleasure in providing services to clients identifying themselves as athletes.
  • Attendees will be able to identify and describe viable strategies for establishing an athlete-friendly practice.
  • Attendees will be able to identify and determine how best to meet ethical guidelines and standards when working with this specialty clientele.
  • Attendees will acquire understanding of how to conceptualize the work and consult with coaches, sport teams and athletes on clinical issues associated with sport.


About Dr. Ian Birky:

Dr. Birky received his undergraduate degree at Goshen College, later spent time in a graduate program studying theology, and eventually went on to receive a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Oklahoma State University.  He completed his internship at the Yale University School of Medicine followed by employment at Colgate University. While at Colgate, he did research in psychoanalytic theory, and conducted research and taught courses in sport psychology in addition to practicing and administrating the Counseling Center.

For the past 30 years, Dr. Birky has been employed at Lehigh University where he is director of University Counseling and Psychological Services and teaches as an adjunct professor in the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program and in the Psychology department. His current research is focused on interpersonal relationships and sport psychology.  Dr. Birky works as a sport psychologist with a number of Lehigh’s varsity sports teams and athletes, and is a licensed psychologist in New York and Pennsylvania with expertise in multicultural, addictions, and group psychotherapy.  His book chapter, “Counseling Student Athletes: Sport Psychology as a Specialization” addresses ethical challenges in managing athlete therapist relationships.

Participants will receive 3 CEs for this program.


Mailing Address

LVPCA PMB# 115 6900 Hamilton Blvd., Unit 285 Trexlertown, PA 18087