Accreditation in mental performance in the NHL, NBA, and MLB: Cause for concern?


Psychological support can provide athletes with effective strategies to aid their well-being and performance. However, not all practitioners are trained and accredited with the same scope of practice. In North America, two accreditations exist for Certified Mental Performance Consultants (CMPC): Canadian Sport Psychology Association (CSPA) and Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). The scope of practice for mental performance consultants includes the use of cognitive (i.e., decision-making, attentional control) and mental skills (i.e., self-confidence, stress management) to adapt to their current environment, but does not include mental health support. The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of certified MPC practitioners in the National Hockey League (NHL), National Basketball League (NBA), and Major League Baseball (MLB) through a cross-sectional content analysis of their websites. Once an individual was located on an organization website, their accreditation was confirmed using the CSPA or AASP member list. Results suggest few organizations had CMPCs (chi-square range = 15.1-19.2, p < .001): NHL (16%), NBA (10%), and MLB (10%). A similar or greater proportion of organizations listed non-certified MPCs (chi-square range = 0.13-18.0, p range = .001-.72): NHL (13%), NBA (27%), and MLB (47%). While there are limitations to the accuracy and generalizability of these findings, they suggest a need for more awareness of the value of accreditation, scopes of practice, and the potential risk of unqualified practitioners working with athletes.