Sport Psychology

crutchesDr. Vogan has specialty training in sport psychology as it relates to recovery from sport injury, retirement transitions, and performance enhancement. He completed his master’s degree in sport psychology and attended a clinical psychology doctoral program with a dual focus on sport psychology. In addition, he has spent hundreds of hours researching the effects of a season-ending injury on athletes through his Master’s thesis and Doctoral dissertation. Consequently, due to his integrated training in both specialties, he is well versed in the sport specific reactions many athletes experience as well as the human response to an injury.

Sport injury is usually perceived as a negative event by most athletes and can create significant turmoil in an individual’s life if the proper social support, motivation, education and mental toughness are not accessible. Although the injury restricts the athlete from playing their sport, it also has far reaching effects on the individual’s daily routine. As a result, the injured athlete is often confronted with the loss of independence, identity and the realization that he/she is vulnerable to injury/illness. Consequently, a holistic approach that treats the entire person, not just the knee, ankle or shoulder that was injured is essential for a complete recovery.

Dr. Vogan works with injured athletes from the time of the initial injury, through their rehabilitation, and return to competition status. Throughout this process, many issues are addressed which pertain to their loss, isolation, lack of meaning without their sport, and the sudden vulnerability they feel when injured. In addition, problems of low motivation during a long rehabilitation are attended to by establishing realistic goal-setting programs and monitoring the athlete’s overall mental health during a stressful situation. Furthermore, he works closely with the physical therapist/athletic trainer and orthopedic surgeon to ensure that coordination of care is optimal. He strongly believes in a multidimensional approach when it comes to athletic injury because it gives the athlete the best possible opportunity for a successful recovery.


Short-term injuries:
Although psychological factors may be assumed to play a more significant role in severe injuries, this may not always be the case. The significance of any loss is determined by the athlete’s own value system as well as personal and situational factors. Any disruption from an athlete’s normal routine has the potential to cause frustration and anxiety. Many athletes are habitual in their routines and when change occurs it may be met with a negative reaction.


Season-ending injuries:
These injuries are usually quite severe and often require surgery followed by several months of rehabilitation. Generally, when a severe injury occurs, the injured athlete must cope with an excess of medically based information, the loss of physical capabilities, and the emotions of withdrawing from a desired activity. In addition, the athlete will likely become dependent on others to fulfill daily living tasks which may exacerbate feelings of helplessness. Losing control of one’s physical movement and having to depend on others may be quite challenging for most athletes, especially when sporting environments encourage self-reliance.


Career-ending injuries:
When a career-ending injury takes place, it is a time when vital issues such as permanent retirement, identity crisis, and the transition from athlete to ex-athlete status emerge. Depending on the severity of the injury the athlete may be confronted with permanent damage to bones, cartilage, ligaments, and nerves as well as varying degrees of brain damage and arthritis. Consequently, this may significantly impact an individual’s ability to lead a productive and fulfilling life outside of his/her sport. In addition, the injured athlete is more susceptible to depression, substance abuse, self-destructive behaviors and suicidal ideations. Although athletes respond differently to similar situations, a career-ending injury commonly overwhelms the coping resources of most individuals.