Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Glena Andrews, PhD

Second Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal, PhD

Third Advisor

Celeste Jones, PsyD


Neurophysiological research has begun to uncover how therapy produces change in the brain. To examine this phenomenon, many studies have controlled for specific symptoms to identify where therapy has the greatest effect (Linden, 2006). In athletic performance, anxiety represents a significant struggle for college athletes (Mabweazara, Leach, & Andrews, 2017). The present study intended to examine the impact of brief therapy on brain activation and competition anxiety in college athletes. A sample of collegiate athletes (n = 17) participated in a pre-post intervention study. Pre- and post-intervention measures included electroencephalogram (EEG), galvanic skin response (GSR), self-report anxiety measures (SAS-2, GAD-7), and selfratings of performance. Each athlete completed 5 sessions of Solution-Focused Therapy to address symptoms of competition anxiety. Significant decreases in self-reported competition anxiety were found post-intervention. Significant increases in self-ratings of performance were also found post-intervention. Significant changes in EEG brainwave activity were also found, particularly in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes which paralleled those found in previous studies on depression and anxiety (Grimm et al., 2008; Paquette et al., 2003). GSR readings were not found to be significantly different from pre- to post-intervention. The impact of therapy can be measured via client experience and brainwave activity. Limitations and future directions are discussed. Therapeutic outcomes appear to be just as present in the hardware of neurobiology as have been found in the software of self-report.