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Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology

Paid vs voluntary work debate during sport psychology training

19 March 2021 | by Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology

On 15 January, a Zoom meeting was held for sport psychology trainees which involved a debate on paid vs voluntary work. There were a variety of opinions regarding this topic.

The main points we spoke about were that doing stuff for free devalues the profession and that trainees tend to do things for free either because they lack confidence, they need to complete a certain amount of hours in a particular timeframe or want experience as most universities don’t really prepare their students for applied practice.

A “charge what you can pay” method was also raised; however it was argued that this isn’t a good option.

Emphasising on the necessity to get paid-for work, it was mentioned that a plumber would not fix a leak for free, therefore a trainee sport psychologists should also not offer to do their job for free.

Another trainee expressed: “We are good at what we do and we deserve to get paid.”

There was also a disagreement of whether to charge a lesser rate for unfunded amateur clubs or just do it for free.

An important aspect mentioned was the financial situation of trainees when completing their training as many have jobs outside of sport psychology and don’t see payment as a priority.

Perceptions of seeing free services advertised were also mentioned as usually when one sees an advert of a free course, they would question the quality and the validity of the course content and offer.

Moreover, an argument on taking on free clients can lose one business in the long term with clients that are willing to pay for the services.

Clear differences in the different aspects of sport and psychology were outlined as S&C coaches don’t get paid much and clinical psychologists walk into salaries.

Additionally, in sport psychology there are not many opportunities for internships and placements compared to clinical psychologists. Increased awareness of sport psychology will help people start to pay going forward.

Lastly it was argued when the right time to charge was and the outcome was that when one feels comfortable charging, as in the early stages a trainee may not have enough experience or knowledge from CPD courses to be able to start charging.

Another suggestion was that offering a free trial could be beneficial but stating that this is not normally a free service is very important.

- Loriellen Eirene Patsi

- Nathaniel Hatch-Johnson


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