In the 2019 EU-wide survey of STARTING 11, dual career stakeholders expressed a strong request for the up-skilling of practitioners delivering counselling services to athletes. Consequently, the area of Counsel will take an important role in our upcoming European Dual Career Toolkit.
Counselling in the context of dual career refers to the inter-personal dialogue between a counsellor and an athlete to support their gradual realisation of dual career measures. In the EU, this type of service is delivered by a variety of practitioners: career counsellors, lifestyle advisors, athlete development managers, (sport) psychologists or pedagogic personnel of sport or education institutions. This professional service equals a big responsibility of the practitioner as it spans a series of tasks such as:
- assisting personal orientation,
- helping to set meaningful goals,
- supporting the exploration of available options,
- facilitating decision-making,
- aiding to develop sustainable strategies,
- co-ensuring tailored implementation or
- fostering a self-responsible lifestyle of the athlete.
These tasks must be applied to the complex individual context of an athletic career’s phases and transitions. This life world of an athlete appears highly dynamic and (in most cases) entails a variety of demanding changes and setbacks.
With its Counsel tools, the European Dual Career Toolkit aims to assist service providers in supporting athletes in the course of two of their most challenging dual career transitions; on the one hand at the end of their school education when deciding for a subsequent dual career project, on the other hand at the end of their high performance sporting career when initiating post-athletic life.
Promoting the whole-person-athlete
The leader of the STARTING 11 Counsel Expert Group which is responsible for building the tools, Wolfgang Stockinger (TW1N), grants us a first insight into the philosophy of the project’s approach:
“Our tools will root in basic principles of humanistic psychology. This teaching comes with a person-centered, valuing and resource-oriented approach. It interprets a person (an athlete) as a subjectively free and responsible architect of self. In our view, the whole-person-athlete appears in multiple contexts of life, longing for meaning, self-efficacy, competence, autonomy and social belonging. Thus, the STARTING 11 tools shall act both empowering to the practitioner and the athlete.”