Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Personal trainers-Psychology, Exercise-Psychological aspects, Mental health, Personal training, Ethics, Scope of practice


I undertook this study to expand the literature regarding connections between mental and physical health to include ways in which client mental health arises and is addressed within the personal training relationship. My research was guided by an ethical framework with the purpose of improving best care practices for clients. The four research questions I posed concerned the frequency with which mental health issues are addressed, typical interventions personal trainers utilize in response to these issues, the reasons personal trainers choose specific interventions, and the training personal trainers receive regarding client mental health. Participants (N = 58) were recruited through athletic facilities, internet searches, and snowball sampling methods. They completed an online survey including demographic questions about themselves, their clients, and the facilities at which they work, as well as questions about their experiences working with clients, interventions they use, and their occupational training. My major findings were that participants encountered a variety of mental health issues from their clients. Participants used many interventions to address these issues, some that fell within their scope of practice, such as active listening, and some that did not, such as counseling. Many participants reported making referrals to mental health professionals. For those who did not, their main obstacle was lack of referrals to provide to their clients. In many cases, participants did not receive standardized training regarding best care practices for addressing client mental health, but relied on personal experiences or independently gained knowledge.




v, 90 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 58-61)

Limited Access until August 2017