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Professional Philosophy

            Greatness is something that is inside each of us. What it looks like is often more dependent upon the individual than it is a set standard because the goals that we are reaching for are different. Most people focus in on their physical training to reach greatness. Physical training is important and straightforward. What differentiates those who strive for greatness and those that obtain it lies in a hidden place that we often struggle to focus on because it is intangible, complex, and ever changing. The goal that I, Colten Swogger, look to achieve as a mental performance consultant is to help individuals in high performance occupations grow their cognitive fitness. I aim to do this through a four-pillar theoretical approach that acknowledges and accepts a diverse clientele, is created with developmental stage appropriateness, and is delivered in an ethical manner.

            A performer’s cognitive fitness, which is a combination of the cognitive readiness and mental fitness literature (Aidman, 2020), is a critical element that plays upon many different aspects of their career. Stress, anxiety, focus, mental toughness, coping with failure, and many more areas are impacted by this idea of mental performance. I look to approach my work with high performing individuals through four theoretical foundations that provide a holistic approach to cognitive fitness. The first pillar is that of reality theory. This theory revolves around the client’s choices, behaviors, and navigating the reality that they are in (Haskins & Appling, 2017). The goal is to meet the client where they are and create an environment where they are validated yet challenged to grow. Pillar two is cognitive behavioral theory (CBT). In CBT, we look to connect the client’s thoughts with their actions and realize the relationship between the two. Some useful tools for this theory are biofeedback and neurobiofeedback (Prochaska & Norcross, 2018). In conjunction with CBT, pillar three is rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). REBT add the emotional component and follows the path of (A)-activating event, (B)-client beliefs, and (C)-consequences (Prochaska & Norcross, 2018). This follows my personal ideology of FPTA: Feel, Process, Think, Act. Recognizing that each individual is different, my fourth theoretical pillar is that of existential theory. Existential theory strays from specific intervention techniques and focuses on insights while drawing from several different fields (Kottler & Shepard, 2015) so that there is not one specific set of techniques that a clinician will prefer to draw from, but the techniques utilized will vary from patient to patient.

            These four pillars aim to address the reality that the elite performer is living in by addressing the cognitive (mental), behavioral (physical), and emotional components of their being while providing the freedom to adjust to the client’s needs as they increase their mental fitness and grow their performance levels. These adjustments often mean accounting for the differences of a culturally diverse clientele. Diversity goes beyond race, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc. This also includes accounting for the unique cultural factors that can impact performance such as religion, family structure, societal expectations, socio-economic background and more (Gill & Kamphoff, 2009). Diversity is a core of the human experience and should be embraced by practitioners and elite performers alike.

            One of the ways that we understand that diversity is a core of human existence is the phrase "don't put me in a box". This phrase is often used when we fear being lumped into a group stereotype. At our very core, we aim to be diverse and separate as unique individuals. However, I see this phrasing as inadequate. Boxes are rigid, singular forms that have a set shape. If they hit another box, they often bounce off each other or the boxes become crushed. Therefore, I tend to put people in bubbles instead. When we look at bubbles, we can see they can be freer in form. When they meet another bubble, they could bounce off each other like boxes do, get stuck together but stay individual bubbles, or they could merge and become one. There is even the chance that one or both bubbles could pop! I see people much in the same way. Each person has their own individual bubble that over time grows and combines with or rejects the other bubbles that they encounter. We can see this in how people from very diverse backgrounds can end up sharing similar interests and beliefs. Another important aspect is how our bubbles are formed. Depending on the shape of the wand (the belief structure of the person raising a child) and the pressure blown on the bubble, the shape and size of an individual's bubble changes.

            We know that in the same way that we all must develop physically and emotionally from childhood to adulthood, there is cognitive development that happens as well. What this means for my clients is that my programs will be tailored to reach the developmental stage of each individual. What a performer on the junior varsity or middle school level learns will not be the same that college performer will learn. The college performer’s program will look different than what the professional performer’s program will look like as well. These differences can include language used, number of areas worked on at a singular time, and the depth that the program entails. Each session will be designed so that the client is able to understand both the techniques as well as the reasonings behind them. A younger performer may focus more on interventions geared toward motor learning skills while and older performer’s interventions will involve more complex techniques designed to reach multiple areas.

            The interventions and techniques that a sport and performance consultant utilize are important to the success of the performer’s growth. As a part of my holistic approach, I will work with performers year-round. Preseason, in-season, and postseason sessions will be available. Individual sessions will last 30-45 minutes as we target specific needs of the clients. Each season will be tailored to fit with the individual client. The ultimate goal of my work with elite performers is to teach the performers to become self-sufficient as they gain confidence in their skills and abilities and are provided with tools that they are able to continue implementing on their own. Although my primary focus is individual work, groups sessions will also be available upon team requests. These may include sessions for specific areas or workshops and training that provide overall foundations and guidance for performers. Coaches and other staff (such as medical, training, and organization management) are also welcome to learn and can find training sessions for themselves as well as ways to support and empower their performers. Techniques and interventions that I use will be those that I have researched and found to be supported from a scientific standpoint.

            This is a crucial component of my work as it is the utmost importance to myself that I can aid my clients in an ethical manner. To do this, I must conduct myself in a way that creates trust with my clients that I have the competency in the areas that I perform. Although I have training in the area, I am not a mental health professional. It is important to state this because there is a difference between the work that I do and the work that a licensed mental health practitioner conducts. This is one of the boundaries of confidence that I promise to work within.  Following the Association of Applied Sports Psychology’s (AASP) code of ethics (2011), I will work within the areas that I have the training and experience, maintain the boundaries between myself and my clients that keep the client safe, strive to be a champion for diversity, and hold to the AASP code of ethics.

            Each of these components will hopefully allow you the necessary insight to determine if we may be a possible fit to work together and understand the way that I approach my work. The underlying ethical standards that I will hold and stand by help to showcase my responsibility and sincerity that I have towards the health, safety, and development of my clients. Through these standards, I utilize the four-pillar theoretical foundation to create individualized sessions that will be available for performers of diverse backgrounds. These sessions will involve techniques that are scientifically sound and presented in a way that connects to the client where they are during their developmental stage. When everything is combined, the end goal is to have clients who are given the tools necessary to become self-sufficient in their skills with the ability to unlock the greatness that they seek to achieve.

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