It is the ethical imperative of all practitioners of psychology to employ evidence-based interventions. However, as “Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology” author Roland Carlstedt points out, the over reliance on methods for inconsequential reasons is common. Whereas a practitioner's choice of intervention should ideally be driven by clients' characteristics, needs, and treatment response, interventions are often chosen because they are popular, familiar to the clinician, or practically expedient. “Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology” argues for greater accountability in the practice of sport psychology, but this case could be made for many applied psychology subfields. It is easy enough to rally for greater rigor in evidence-based practice, but “Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology” goes further to specify a blueprint that practitioners can use to evaluate the efficiency and efficacy of the interventions they use with clients at the intra-individual level.
“Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology” is a practical manual for trainees and practitioners who are seeking certification from the American Board of Sport Psychology (ABSP). Dr Carlstedt is the current chair of the ABSP, and his protocol, the Carlstedt Protocol, guides the ABSP board certification roadmap. The Carlstedt Protocol begins with an extensive intake comprised of multimodal assessments including personality profiling, psychophysiological assessment, neurocognitive measures, and sport-specific performance-based outcomes. Choice of intervention should be guided by an athlete's personality profile. Response to intervention is not assumed, but rather evaluated continually throughout the course of the intervention with the serial assessment of physiological responses and sport-specific micro and macro outcomes. Carlstedt specifies an evidence hierarchy based on the construct validity of indicator and outcome variables, in order to guide practitioners in light of conflicting results. Sport psychology practitioners can easily implement this protocol to evaluate the success of interventions in their own practice. “Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology” advocates for single-case designs with repeated measures, an excellent research method, amenable to practitioners who pragmatically cannot engage in large-scale research programs employing randomized controlled designs. The single-case design may be the most rigorous method currently available to the field of sport psychology, wherein, as Carlstedt argues, robust group studies are lacking and meta-analytic results may mislead.
In addition to providing a blueprint for assessing athletes and evaluating intervention success, “Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology” also reviews a variety of mental training techniques, complete with individual athlete- and team-level case studies and sample reports. The theoretical underpinnings and technical application of each method are discussed. Although this manual will serve as a handy resource for practitioners, it does not replace a formal curriculum in sport psychology, and specialized training in psychophysiology, biofeedback, and mental training techniques is required in order to competently employ Dr Carlstedt's recommendations. In its final chapter, “Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology” details the curriculum and practicum requirements needed to pursue ABSP certification and makes recommendations for those interested in expanding their competencies within sport psychology.
“Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology” is an essential resource for trainees and practitioners of sport psychology. Its interest to a more general psychology audience is probably limited, due to the highly specialized nature of its content. However, there are a number of broad points raised by Carlstedt in this text that are relevant to all applied psychology disciplines. The accountability blueprint that Carlstedt specifies serves as a useful template that could be adopted by other fields, such as psychotherapy and neurorehabilitation. In his call to evaluate effectiveness and efficacy at the intra-individual level (using single-case repeated-measures designs), Carlstedt raises a critical point that all applied psychology fields should heed—in order for evidence-based practice to evolve, we must move past a “cook-book” approach based on modest effect sizes from large group studies. Each practitioner should actively engage in evaluating and adapting their treatment approaches based on individual clients' responses in addition to the latest findings from experimental group designs. In this way, psychologists can embody the ideals of the scientist-practitioner model by using their observational, assessment, and data-analytic skills to optimize treatment. With data-sharing and use of standardized measures, databases could be created housing a wealth of information that would contribute valuable knowledge to the field and also inspire future research employing controlled designs. This focus on the intra-individual level of analysis echoes a recent appeal on the necessity of using person-specific data-analytic approaches in psychology (Molenaar, 2013).
I wished that Carlstedt had more thoroughly discussed a few important points, which, in my opinion, are relevant to his model. “Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology” discusses construct validity in considerable depth; however, other important measurement principles, such as reliability (a pre-requisite of validity), are not adequately discussed. And, although Carlstedt provides an evidence hierarchy based on the relative construct validity of different measures, the reliability coefficients and correlations to criterion variables are not routinely reported, leaving the reader no choice but to take the author's word for it. Readers should also be made aware of statistical issues that may complicate their interpretation of longitudinal outcomes. The issue of statistical power is mentioned a handful of times, but never adequately addressed. Furthermore, although multimodal assessment provides a plethora of informative data, it also invites the problem of multiple comparisons, which increases the chance of spurious results reaching traditional significance thresholds (i.e. α = 0.05). Readers should be made aware of this problem and provided with rubrics for addressing it. Scholarly reviews of psychophysiology, neuroelectrophysiology, and neurocognitive assessment are certainly outside of the purview of this text; however, any reader who intends to employ these techniques should familiarize themselves with these literatures. The book's figures are, for the most part, screenshots. The intention here, I believe, is to simulate for the reader the experience of walking through the protocol on his or her own computer. However, as a result, figures are at times difficult to read and poorly labeled.
Notwithstanding these limitations, “Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology” is a valuable contribution to the field of sport psychology, and an indispensible resource for sport psychology trainees and practitioners. As sport psychology is an allied field of neuropsychology, this text may be of interest to readers of this journal.