Premier Sport Psychology is thrilled to welcome Dr. Lauren Zimmerman to its team as a Postdoctoral Resident. A native of Rothsay, Minnesota, Lauren received her Masters and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Wyoming and works with individuals of all ages and levels of sport. Lauren also assists with psychological testing for the University of Minnesota Athletics Department.
Learn more about Lauren, her background, and what brought her to Premier!
What peaked your interest in pursuing a career in the sport psychology and mental health field?
I think I always knew that I wanted to work in the mental health field from a young age. That was always a goal of mine and being from a small town and seeing the lack of resources, I wanted to commit to help with that.
The sport psychology/mental performance piece came in later. Sport was always a passion of mine growing up; in addition to competing as an athlete myself, my brothers playing sports and my dad raced competitively, so sports were always ingrained in our family. Once I was in graduate school I realized that I could combine my love and appreciation for sport and mental health and pursue something; I started to work more with athletes on mental health care (while also combining the mental performance side). I began to gain more and more experience and that’s what led me to my current role at Premier!
What are some of the biggest things that we’re seeing in the athletic community pertaining to mental health and performance?
I think society is starting to recognize mental health in athletes. There’s always been this connotation that athletes are almost indestructible, and that they may not deal with the things that others do. It’s so important to recognize the pressures that come with being an athlete and that we all have mental health. Step one is formalizing that. From that, we can focus on things like reducing burnout in athletes, creating balance, and dealing with the pressures and demands that athletes face. That will lead to progression in things like confidence and focus, which help us not only improve sport performance, but become better people too.
What are you most passionate about in the field?
I was fortunate enough to have a generalist training so I got a lot of variety and different experiences. My specialty training (and passion) lies in working with individuals experiencing trauma and PTSD, mood disorders, substance use or other addictive behaviors, as well as working with assessments, including ADHD and learning disorders. Those are the areas that I have the most training and experience in and bring me the most joy.
How would you describe your approach as a provider?
I think the main thing for me is fostering an environment that promotes vulnerability and a safe space to grow. Perhaps you’re coming in to increase confidence or focus on performance enhancement, but maybe in the background there’s some anxiety going on or a depressed mood. We can start to dismantle that and figure out what is holistically going on for you as a person. Yes, that sport and performance is what’s bringing you in, but for many athletes and individuals there are often other things going on. I strive to create a space where we can explore all facets of how someone can improve in their life.
What do you find fulfilling and what are you passionate about outside of work?
People fill my cup, and working with athletes and performers of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds is one of the biggest reasons I pursued a career in sport psychology! Outside of work I love spending time outdoors, hiking, and being on the lakes, which is why I’m so excited to be back in Minnesota! I’m also very passionate about animals and animal support and enjoy volunteering at humane societies and spending time with my rescue dog Bodie.
What is one thing that you’d like people to know about sport psychology?
In this field we wear many hats. Not only are we working with athletes on performance enhancement, mental health and wellness, emotional support, etc., but we also work with coaches and parents and other members of an athlete’s support system. There’s no one correct way to do things; it’s up and down and all around and it truly takes a team approach to do it well.
What would you say to someone who is considering utilizing sport psychology?
Take the first step, there’s no pressure. Try a session to get a feel for what sport psychology is like. Our goal is to not only help you with goals you have within sport, but to help you become a better person and have overall life satisfaction.