48 : Dr. Julie Amato, Sports Psychologist, Mental & Emotional Struggles of Injury Recovery

This week on the Heads 'N Tales Podcast we start a 4-part educational series with the team from Mind of The Athlete in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  They understand that sports are emotional and strive to improve the emotional health of athletes.  The team at Mind of the Athlete aim to help athletes unlock there potential by equipping athletes with cutting edge sports psychology content, resources, and skills. Their mission is to help athletes thrive and they do so by providing the highest quality one-on-one coaching, team consulting, and speeches.

In episode 48 we hear from Dr. Julie Amato who was an elite athlete herself.  Dr. Amato is licensed as a psychologist in both Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and is a member of the American Psychological Association. She Earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Brown University in 1999 and a Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2005.

Relating to an athlete’s experiences is Dr. Amato’s forte.  She was a record setting point guard for the women’s basketball team while at Brown. As a high school athlete, she lettered in four sports: basketball, tennis, track and field, and softball.  She was featured on ESPN’s Scholastic Sports America in 1994. She was an all-state athlete in PA, holds multiple school records, captained many teams to championship seasons, and is in several athletic halls of fame.   Dr. Amato obviously understands the high performance mindset of athletes.

During our conversation, we focus our discussion on the mental and emotional struggles athletes are confronted with while recovering from an injury and watching their team's go on without them from the sideline.  Below are some of the topics we discuss:

Dr. Julie Amato, Sports Psychologist at Mind of the Athlete discusses the struggle of performance anxiety and how to overcome it.
  • Performance anxiety on the return
  • Tools to combat performance anxiety
    • Normalizing the emotions they feel
    • Put yourself around people you care about
    • Its okay to let the emotions out
    • Get out in the sun
  • Stages of coping
    • Why me?
    • Identity crisis
    • Denial
    • It’s a huge loss
    • Recovery process is like a roller coaster
  • The problem with how athletes are put on a pedestal in this country and are highly valued members in our culture.
  • Importance of finding a hobby outside of your sport to derive value.
    • Rare
  • Continue to find new challenges.
    • A new competitive outlet
  • How to reframe your thoughts in your recovery.
  • What roles do teammates, coaches and family members play during an athletes recovery. 
    • Need to include the injured athletes as much as possible.
  • Why knowledge is power when you return to play.
    • Focusing on what you do know vs what you don’t.
  • How coaches should talk to their team about their injured teammates and cultivate environment where it is okay to say when you are hurt.
  • How the Headspace meditation app can help you be more present and why that is important.

Stay tuned for next week's episode with Dr. Megan Cannon where we discuss tips for managing post concussion syndrome!

Where Can You Find Out More About Mind of The Athlete?

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Where Can You Follow Dr. Amato?

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Download Episode 48 : iTunes | Stitcher