Previous research has highlighted the importance of relationships (e.g., athletic therapist/client) and psychological skill use to manage negative emotions (e.g., frustration, anger) in order to obtain optimal adherence and injury rehabilitation outcomes. However, the relationship between student athletic therapists and varsity athletes has not been examined. Thus, the objective was to examine the relationship between student therapists and varsity athletes and psychological skill use in injury rehabilitation in relation to adherence. Two senior student therapists and three varsity athletes who had completed injury rehabilitation were recruited to participate in semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Both groups of participants described the role of the student therapists as being primarily focused on injury prevention and management. Furthermore, the peer relationships that developed were valued. Goal-setting was used in injury rehabilitation to guide progress, improve adherence, and frame injuries as temporary setbacks. Participants were familiar with imagery from use in other context, however did not report using it in injury rehabilitation. Finally, participants acknowledged that adherence was not perfect, but acknowledged the peer relationships and collaborative goal-setting as helpful. These findings highlight the importance of the relationship between student therapists and athletes and suggest these relationships may support athlete adherence.


Social Support, Adherence, Peer Relationship, Imagery, Thematic Analysis

Author Bio(s)

Colin J. Deal is currently pursuing a PhD in Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Colin J. Deal at, deal1@ualberta.ca.

Dr. Chris A. Shields is a professor in the School of Kinesiology, Acadia University. He teaches research methods, exercise psychology, and health promotion classes. His research interests include: exercise and health psychology, behaviour change, trainer-client interactions, chronic disease, and body image.

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