20 August, 2021 | Posted by Cian Fahey

Portobello Institute Staff Boast Wide-Ranging Sports Psychology Expertise

Portobello Institute sports psychology

Mental health has always been a vitally important aspect of all areas of society. But it’s also previously been an ignored aspect of society. Especially so in sports.

Athletes are lauded for their ability to push through their boundaries and become the best in the world at what they do. The best coaches in the past were the ones who never let their athletes give up. The best athletes were the ones who never did.

But the framing of mental health has changed now. Managing your mental health and taking care of yourself properly is no longer viewed as giving up. Nor should it be. The value of a person and the importance of managing a person’s needs will always outweigh what they achieve on the field.

So there is a balance to be found between pushing elite athletes to where they need to be and taking care of them so they can sustain their success.

Prioritizing mental health doesn’t mean curtailing achievement or limiting potential. It just means changing the way in which athletes are managed. Simone Biles, Tyrone Mings and more athletes proved that this summer and through Covid-19.

This naturally leads to a role of greater importance for sports psychologists.

At Portobello Institute, we are fortunate to have a wide range of sports psychologists who are working as tutors. You can not only come here to study our BSc (Hons) Sports Psychology, Coaching and PE degree in October, but you can do so with full confidence that you will learn from sports psychologists who have worked in every area.

Anthony Sheriff is a graduate of Liverpool John Moores University who has spent his career working as a PE teacher in England and Dubai. He also runs workshops for elite athletes in sports psychology. Anthony holds a master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Psychology.

“I believe strongly in working together with the students in my class and will always encourage students to share their opinions to help create interesting discussions. I am also a strong believer in reflective practice and believe that this approach will allow me to improve continuously which will then maximize the student’s potential to achieve their goals.

I’m one of those people who did every job in the world and I found out what I didn’t want to do before I found out what I did want to do. That’s definitely helped me understand students coming from different areas of life.”

Anthony also hosts a Sports Psychology podcast where he interviews elite professional and amateur athletes.

Alan Whelan is a former Portobello Institute student who has since become a lecturer. He was a mature student when he arrived at Portobello, having undertaken a career change away from real estate. After completing his degree at Portobello, he attained a master’s in sports psychology from the University of Ulster in Belfast.

He now splits his time working in Portobello while running his own sports psychology business.

“I am a very open and approachable tutor. I believe in a student-centred approach to learning, with student engagement and discussion at the heart of every lecture.

A firm believer in the benefits of effective goal setting, engaging in reflective practice and practical application, I employ a number of sport psychology related skills into the education setting to ensure all students maximize their potential for learning.”

Emma McLoughlin spent most of her career working in psychology with mental health patients away from sports. She eventually found a way to combine her passion for psychology and sport, relying on her BA in Psychology and her MSc in Sports and Exercise Psychology.

While working as a lecturer at Portobello, Emma has also diversified to create Mí Analytics, a performance analysis company specializing in pattern recognition.

“I didn’t actually have lecturing in mind…but I love it. I really do. I love the discussions and the psychology side of things. Yes, there’s right answers but everyone knows it’s based on your perception, and I love that discussion, the deep thinking and the critical thinking.

Encouraging that in students to not just take everything at face value.

The mental health side of things really enables you to see how people form different perceptions and how they’re so deep rooted. Changing behaviour is a big massive thing and it’s not as simple as go in give a talk and everyone is confident and you leave.

Human beings are quite complex.”

Leading the sports department is Dr. Susan Giblin.

Dr. Giblin is the Head of Sports at Portobello Institute and plays a critical role in outlining the degrees and setting the direction of the department. She holds multiple degrees related to sports psychology including:

  • Post-doctoral fellowship – Psychomotor assessment validation (University of Central Lancashire)
  • PhD Psychomotor Development (University of Central Lancashire)
  • MSc Performance Psychology (University of Edinburgh)
  • PGDiploma General Psychology (University of Derby)
  • BSc Health and Performance Science (UCD)

“Sports students are passionate, determined and motivated people. They bring an energy to the classroom that is infectious. They are a joy to mentor and our academic team are invaluable in providing that mentorship to our students.”

Dr. Giblin has spent her career working at the highest levels of education and professional sports in different roles. She brings her leadership and guidance, as well as her expertise in sports psychology and other areas, to every decision the department makes.

If you want to pursue a career in sports psychology, Portobello Institute is the perfect place for you.


Portobello Institute values the one in everyone and understands that education is only a part of your life. We don’t want to take up all of your time and create stress for you. You should go to college to improve your life outside of college and after college.

We are training the sports professionals of the future. If you would like to work in sport in a professional capacity, you can find a course that will provide you with the requisite education to do so.

Our sports courses are listed here.

To read more articles like this one, you can visit the Sports section of the Knowledge Zone.

If you would prefer to have a direct conversation with Johanna, you can contact her on 01-892-0024 or you can email her at jo.shaw@portobelloinstitute.com. Meetings with Johanna can be booked through this link.


Featured in this article:
Johanna Shaw has a 2:1 in BSc (Hons) in Sports and Exercise Science from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. She completed an MPhil Studentship in Physical Activity for Health alongside an Exercise Development role. She then went onto a Tackling Inactivity in Students role funded by Sport England within a Further Education College in London before moving back to Dublin to Portobello Institute.

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