The ultimate goal of Sporting Chance as an organisation is to ensure that sports professionals or ex-professionals in need of emotional help have a safe and confidential place to access it, whoever they are, wherever they are and whatever level of professional sport they play or have played in the past. Over the course of the last year, over 300 such individuals have contacted us looking for some form of support and Sporting Chance continues to work with its partners across a number of sports to encourage even more athletes to ask for the help that they need.
Our counselling service is just one of a number that Sporting Chance offers as an organisation. For those experiencing problems with addiction, our Residential Treatment Programme is frequently the most appropriate form of initial treatment. However, many of the existing and retired sports professionals who contact us do not identify with addictive behaviours but instead are experiencing emotional difficulties or going through changes in their life with which they are struggling to cope. For these individuals, a course of one-to-one counselling can be a highly effective form of therapy which can address a wide range of issues including bereavement, depression, anxiety and difficulties with transition (including those relating to sporting injury).
Additionally, clients may be experiencing problems arising from substance misuse or gambling, which are not necessarily addictive disorders and are more effectively addressed through a course of counselling. In some cases, our clients have identified their issues with addiction through a course of one-to-one counselling and subsequently enrolled on our Residential Treatment Programme; others who have completed the programme have found it beneficial to take up counselling sessions as a form of supplementary aftercare once they have completed their stay with us.
Tony Adams says of his experience of one-to-one counselling:
"I know how valuable seeing a counsellor is from my own experience. It was my path into recovery. I wanted a new life and couldn't share everything; some of it was too personal. I have always kept up one-to-one counselling."
We always conduct a short clinical assessment with a client in the first instance, either face to face or by telephone. This enables us to best assess an individual's needs and the most effective therapy for them, whether directly through ourselves or a related service. In some instances, those who contact us seeking support have also been experiencing ancillary mental health issues, such as bi-polar or schizophrenia. It is important these are addressed and treated before any client can get the full benefit of the range of therapy that Sporting Chance provides; we can arrange an appointment with one of a number of expert psychiatrists for further assessment and, if needed, specialist treatment, bypassing the delays that many experience when seeking help through the statutory system.
Following an assessment, some clients may decide they would benefit most from a period of residential treatment, designed specifically to address addiction to alcohol, drugs or other substances. For others, a programme of one-to-one counselling is the more practicable next step on their journey to emotional wellbeing.
How One-to-One Counselling Works
One-to-one counselling is a form of talking therapy designed to move individuals forward from damaging, frequently destructive mental states to a place of balanced emotional wellbeing. To facilitate treatment, Sporting Chance has a large network of highly qualified, fully insured counsellors covering the whole of the UK. All the counsellors in our network operate within guidelines and principles established with Sporting Chance; many are ex-professional sportsmen or women who have trained as therapists or counsellors after retiring from sport.
The number of practitioners we have available and their wide geographical coverage means that as soon as a client contacts us and has undergone assessment, we can quickly link them with a counsellor who will suit both their needs and personality and whose expertise and support is always quick and convenient to access - the vast majority of our clients are within a one hour drive of a member of our network and in most instances attend their first session within 48 hours of their initial call to Sporting Chance. However, our counsellors are frequently specialists in a certain field, such as bereavement, substance misuse, gambling or the psychological effects of sporting injury and in some instances, we may recommend a client travels slightly further to access a specialist with the expertise relevant to their problems. Courses of one-to-one counselling vary in length depending on individual circumstances but ordinarily consist of between 6 to 18 sessions per client.
Confidentiality is at the heart of everything we do as an organisation. It is also important to note that if you are over 18 years of age, Sporting Chance has no duty to contact any related stakeholders with regards to a client and would not do so without the client's express consent.
How Do I Pay for Counselling?
For individuals participating in professional football or rugby league, the cost of treatment at Sporting Chance is met by the PFA National Network and the Super League/Rugby Football League Welfare System. Sporting Chance welcomes (and frequently receives) enquiries from professionals operating in other sports, although any subsequent treatment would carry a small cost.