My research focuses on community-based approaches to developing practical and culturally-tailored interventions for athletes and, more recently, individuals who are traditionally considered ‘harder to reach’. I seek to understand how individuals learn to effectively regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours with mental skills training, and determine the impact of self-regulation (or dysregulation) on performance, health, and well-being.
Topics covered by my research include:
- Imagery in sport, exercise, and dance
- Mental skills training in sport and non-sport settings
- Transferable skills for academic and employment success
- Positive youth development for disadvantaged young people
- Sport performance issues (competitive anxiety, motivation, perfectionism)
- Mental health and well-being
Whereas sport psychology customarily focuses on mental skills as a regulatory capacity that athletes use in competitive and non-competitive situations, I more broadly use this knowledge to support health-related quality of life in communities that are more challenging to engage, such as homeless adolescents (see www.sprintproject.org)
My current research develops, implements, and evaluates strengths-based programmes for improving intrapersonal and interpersonal skills in young people experiencing homelessness. Since 2013, I have worked with St Basils, a West Midlands-based Housing Service, to co-design and deliver the first sport psychology informed intervention for young people experiencing homelessness or at risk. My Strengths Training for Life™ (MST4Life™) is a strengths-based programme designed to address the emotional and psychological issues of homeless young people whilst simultaneously recognising their great resilience and strengths.
Informed by psychological and pedagogical theories, I develop practical approaches to intervention in collaboration with beneficiaries of this research. Using a community-based participatory research paradigm, my goal is to share learning and decision-making with key stakeholders so that all involved feel a sense of control and efficacy over the research process.
My earlier research focused on the mental technique of imagery through the development of theoretical models for use in research and applied settings, such as the revised applied model of deliberate imagery use, and by determining ways to effectively develop and measure imagery use and ability in sport, exercise, and dance. This work has led to improved measurement of imagery processes and ways to increase the credibility of imagery interventions by establishing appropriate screening measures and manipulation checks. She was the Guest Editor of a Special Issue on Imagery Ability for Imagination, Cognition and Personality, is a Founding Member of the Research in Imagery and Observation (RIO) Group, and was co-director of the Birmingham Imagery and Observation Research Group with Dr Sarah Williams.