Sports Performance and Therapy

Erin Sesemann, Therapist, Boone, NC

Dr. Erin Sesemann, PhD, LMFT, CBIS (she/her/hers) takes a holistic approach to counseling with her specialized training in Medical Family Therapy, EMDR therapy, and certification as a Brain Injury Specialist. Her office is based in Boone, North Carolina, offering in-person and online therapy to people across North Carolina.

Watching the Olympics, I noticed that many athletes shared their mental health stories when talking about what they did to improve their performance. They publicly talked about how important it was (is) for them to address their mental health with therapy to make the most of their sports performance. Even though they are professional athletes, their issues were the same or similar to the issues my clients talk about all the time: anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship conflict, stress. 

Despite the stoic, superhero stereotype of being an athlete, it seemed the Olympians wanted us to know that they are human too. They are people just like everyone else. They wanted us to see that their humanity and mental health mattered just as much as their performance.



What is Athlete Mental Health?

You might ask yourself, what does it mean to “address my mental health?” Well, your mental health encompasses your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and relationships (CDC, 2021). For athletes, mental health symptoms can pop up in response to a variety of different things. 

The demands of being an athlete might affect you, such as: 

  • Injuries
  • Overtraining
  • Not recovering enough
  • Peer comparison
  • Financial strain
  • Performance pressure
  • Body image issues
  • Negative team dynamics
  • Weight-related issues

Despite the number of things listed above, that is not even close to an exhaustive list. You might need to address the parts of your life that surround your life as an athlete. These types of general life stressors can also affect you:

  • Work-life balance
  • Parenting
  • Dating
  • Relationship conflict
  • Past traumatic experiences
  • Grief and loss

Regardless of what level of athlete you are (recreational, amateur, elite, professional), you can be impacted by your mental health. So, how are you doing, really? Could you and your sports performance benefit from therapy? 


What Can Athletes Address in Therapy?

In therapy, you can learn ways to better manage your emotions, thoughts, actions, and relationships to cope better with the demands of being an athlete and then, likely improve your performance.

You can meet with a therapist to analyze your mental health for stuck points or stress responses just like you might work with a physician or physical therapist to analyze your body for weakness or injuries. 

In therapy, you can address issues such as:

  • Managing anxiety or anxious thoughts
  • Dealing with high pressure situations
  • Communicating with your coach or teammates
  • Family conflict
  • Goal setting
  • Self-esteem or confidence
  • Managing expectations
  • Past or current trauma
  • Coping with injuries
  • Improving sleep
  • Burnout 
  • Depression
  • Pain management

Therapy for Athletes in North Carolina

Just like the Olympians, addressing your mental health can be the difference that makes a difference in improving your sports performance and overall life. I encourage you to reach out for help today if you are struggling or if you resonated with anything in this blog.

We can work together to manage your situations and emotions while figuring out how to do things differently. My office is located in Boone, North Carolina and I offer in-person and online therapy. Call me today at 828-600-5051 to schedule an appointment or to request your first free 15 minute phone consultation. 

If you are in a crisis, please call or text: 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Crisis Text Line: text “hello” to 741-741

Share Post: