Maria Psychountaki

University of Athens, Greece

Maria Psychountaki is a psychologist and a sport psychologist working as an associate professor at the School of Physical Education and Sport Science and the Department of Psychology, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens. She teaches in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs of studies. The courses of her responsibility are: “Developmental psychology“, “Sport psychology” and “Exercise and mental health“.

She is also the Director of the Motor Behavior and Sport Psychology Laboratory.

She has graduated in both physical education and psychology and she got her PhD in sport psychology in 1998 at the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens.

Since 1989 she has had experience in both clinical psychology and sport psychology as a consultant in high level individual and team sports athletes (Greek Sport federations and Cyprus Olympic Committee). Since 2000 she has provided on-site support for Greek and Cypriots athletes during Olympic and Commonwealth Games and European and World Championships. For 10 years she was the sport psychologist at Panathinakos FC Academy creating a psychological support program for young soccer players; collaborating with all involved: director, coaches, players and parents. Since 2017 she has had collaboration with the Sports Excellence program for young talented athletes’ preparation.

Her research work is in applied sport psychology topics (individual and team sports), in youth sports, and exercise and mental health issues. She has participated in two European research projects on physical activity and mental health [MENS project (2017-2018) and ASAL project (2019-2020)].

She has been the editor into the Greek language of the textbook: Sport Psychology: Concepts & Applications (Cox, 2012, 7th ed.) and the co-editor into the Greek language of the textbooks: Foundations of Sport & Exercise Psychology (Weinberg & Gould, 2015, 6th ed.) and Physical Activity & Mental Health (Clow & Edmunds, 2014).

Furthermore, from 2000 to 2010 she has been the editor of the Journal of Sport Psychology in Greece. From 2000 to 2004 she has been the President of the Hellenic Society of Sport Psychology and from 2003 to 2007 she has been the Vice President of the European Society of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC). She is a member of various national and international societies of psychology and sport psychology.


From acceptance to success: The case of a four-time medalist in the Paralympic Games

Maria Psychountaki

National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

This presentation will focus on a Paralympic athlete case from the beginning of her visual impairment condition up to the participation and victory in Paralympic Games. Carolina is a swimmer with visual impairment (S12).

The steps we followed are: (a) the creation of a trust atmosphere between the athlete and the psychologist, (b) the acceptance of the problem by the athlete and (c) the change of category from normal to disabled athletic category. These three steps were covered in two years’ time.

An adapted Psychological Preparation Program (adPsPP) was applied which included techniques such as relaxation, mental training, goal setting etc. Every year we had to deal with new athletic goals and work on personal issues. During the whole program, there was a close cooperation with her coaches and mother. Throughout the program, the emphasis was placed on counseling how to handle specific situations, how to use previous experience to solve problems and make her transitions easier.

The evaluation of the adPsPP is based on the medals that Carolina won, the world records she held, the improvement in the quality of her personal life, the opinions of her coach and her mother, as well as the fact that this program is still up and going.