Does athletic identity impact psychological functioning during sport retirement? Seeking answers through her doctoral research and clinical practice, Zarina works with AthletesCAN in Ottawa, Ontario to develop and disseminate evidence-informed best-practices to promote adaptive transitions from elite sport. Project results are expected to contribute to enhanced athlete resilience.
My doctoral research aims to optimize athletes’ adaptation to sport retirement through the development and evaluation of a novel group psychotherapy intervention targeting athletes’ identity development and transition. To increase the reach and impact of this work, Athletes in Transition, a 1.5-hour workshop, was created to educate retiring athletes on the influence of athletic identity on psychological functioning. A formal partnership with AthletesCAN, the Association of Canada’s National Team Athletes, was established to develop and disseminate evidence-informed best-practices to promote adaptive transitions from elite sport. A pre- to post-test research design will be employed to evaluate the effectiveness of Athletes in Transition on identity awareness, mental health literacy, and attitudes towards help-seeking. Results are expected to provide an innovative and practical solution for retiring athletes and sport organizations, contributing to enhanced psychological health.
What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?
Being a Public Scholar is commeasurate with translating and applying research knowledge beyond the traditional academic context. This includes engaging in an iterative process with public stakeholders by assessing gaps in knowledge and services, and working to advance these areas through the integration of cutting-edge science. As a UBC Public Scholar, I aim to build connections with external, non-academic bodies to learn about real-world problems which shape and inform my empirical curiosity. My goal is to address these issues through my research and clinical work as an aspiring psychologist.
In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?
Through endorsing a broader definition of what it means to attain a PhD, the UBC Public Scholars Initiative (PSI) has re-imagined the value of the doctorate degree. A timely endeavour, the PSI recognizes and endorses diverse forms of collaborative scholarship, affording Scholars the opportunity to gain an array of community connections and professional skills, fostering broader career readiness post-graduation. As such, my work as a UBC Public Scholar will give me the opportunity to bridge the gap from academia into pertinent “real world” settings, allowing me to contribute to change in a more direct, applied, and meaningful way. I am confident that these experiences will strengthen my repertoire of skills, enhancing my overall doctoral education.
How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?
In Counselling Psychology, we are trained as scientist-practitioners. This means that we use empirical research to influence our applied practice, while simultaneously allowing our clinical experiences to shape our future research questions. Participation in the PSI enables closer proximity to some of the problems that I am studying which, in turn, will enrich my empirical curiosity and clinical practice with athlete populations. By building important relationships and by collaborating with public stakeholders, I hope to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to influence change at various levels of analysis throughout my career.
How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?
My research engages the Canadian sport community in a variety of ways. First, my partnership with a non-academic, external National Sport Organization, AthletesCAN, affords a variety of unique possibilities, including the opportunity to collaborate on sport transition issues of mutual interest and benefit, the capacity to reach many more Canadian athletes geographically, as well as the ability to connect with a wide-range of elite athletes and affiliated partner organizations (e.g., Olympic, Paralympic, Aboriginal, Pan American, and Commonwealth Games). Second, facilitating Athletes in Transition enables the opportunity to bring together and educate athletes who compete at the highest level of sport competition in Canada, specifically those who are most likely to experience significant post-retirement challenges, according to mounting empirical evidence in the area. Thus, I hope that this project results in accessible guidelines which can be consolidated into a report and disseminated to sport federations and the larger athletic community in Canada.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
There are a multitude of reasons why I decided to pursue a PhD, although one reason stands out from the others: a childhood dream. One of my Mom’s favorite anecdotes from my childhood regarded my natural disposition to help people. I knew early on that I was well-suited to pursue a career in helping and understanding human beings. Thus, my journey began at UBC eleven years ago, chasing dreams I never thought were possible.
Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?
My decision to continue studying at UBC was exquisitely simple. Throughout my time here, I have been actively involved in a number of different initiatives on campus, allowing me to build a strong sense of community and connectedness at this world class institution. It has been the people, the opportunities for growth, and the campus spirit, which have inspired me to pursue a doctoral degree at UBC.
As a UBC Public Scholar, I aim to build connections with external, non-academic bodies to learn about real-world problems which shape and inform my empirical curiosity. My goal is to address these issues through my research and clinical work as an aspiring psychologist.