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Athletics Department Welcomes Sport Psychology Unit Additions

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (Aug. 6, 2021) – West Virginia University Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Shane Lyons and WVU Director of the Carruth Center for Psychological and Psychiatric Services T. Anne Hawkins announce the return of Mountaineer alumni Dr. Adrian Ferrera as the director of clinical and sport psychology, and Dr. Sofía España Pérez, as the clinical and sports behavioral health therapist for the athletics department.

“We are committed to our student-athletes here at WVU, especially in the areas of health, both physical and mental,” Lyons said. “We are happy to welcome Dr. Adrian Ferrera, and Dr. Sofía España Pérez back to WVU. They bring excellent credentials, years of experience and are outstanding additions to our staff. We look forward to seeing the impact they will have with our student-athletes.”

The clinical and sport psychology unit at WVU provides counseling and performance enhancement services for student-athletes. It provides clinical services, including short-term individual counseling, group counseling crisis intervention services, psychoeducation workshops, risk assessment and reduction intervention for student-athletes. The unit also serves as an instructional and educational role for the student-athletes to promote the areas of student-athlete health, resilience and wellness.

In addition to the aforementioned positions, WVU Athletics also will have a graduate assistant employed within the clinical and sport psychology unit. 

“Student mental health and invidual welfare are important priorities for the Carruth Center at WVU, and we have invested a significant amount of energy and resources to ensure that it is given the proper attention it needs and deserves,” Hawkins said. “We are thrilled to work in conjunction with the athletics department to bring back Adrian and Sofía to work with student-athletes to assist them and give them the tools to achieve success, not only on the field but in their day-to-day lives off the field.”

Ferrera returns to West Virginia after serving as the director of counseling and sport psychology at Auburn University since 2018. In his role there, he provided individual and group therapy, mental health crisis intervention, consultation and outreach on clinical issues relevant to student-athletes including athletic identity, transition out of college, interpersonal relationships, cultural identity and substance abuse. He developed programs and policies for identification and treatment of emotional, social and behavioral concerns affecting transitions into college life. He also developed personalized counseling and sport psychology services to enhance the personal, social, emotional, academic and athletic success. He supervised members of the counseling and sport psychology staff and was a member of the sexual violence and prevention committee, the Auburn Prevention Coalition, Athletics Culture Committee, A Sound Mind Committee and the inclusion and race task force.

Over the course of his career, he spent time as the associate director of counseling and sport psychology at the University of Washington, was a cognitive performance coach for the United States Army Special Operations soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, spent a three-year stint as a career services counselor and also as a sport psychology consultant for three years. He began his career at Northeastern University as a student-athlete mentor.

Ferrera is a licensed professional counselor and is a certified mental performance consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. He has lectured at universities in the United States and internationally, has published professional journal articles and made numerous professional presentations.

A native of Southern California, Ferrera earned his bachelor’s degree from University of La Verne in La Verne, California, in 2006, a master’s degree in counseling with a sport psychology specializiation from Boston University in 2007, a second master’s degree in counseling from WVU in 2014 and his doctorate in sport and exercise psychology from WVU in 2014.

España Pérez served the past two years as a practicum trainee for the WVU Carruth Center, while she was completing her requirements for her master’s and doctoral degrees. She provided individual in-person and telehealth conseling sessions to students at WVU. She assessed immediate concerns, provided diagnoses, created treatment plans and implemented interventions to help the students live healthy, successful and meaningful lives. España Pérez also provided counseling sessions in the areas of alchohol and substance abuse and helped promote a sense of community with the student body and addressed student concerns such as anxiety, stress management and self-care.

España Pérez also served as a sport psychology consultant for the WVU tennis program for four years, was a performance psychology consultant for students in the WVU school of law and was a practicum trainee at Whole Brain Solutions in Morgantown.

While working on her master’s degree at Minnesota State, she was a sport psychology consultant for collegiate and high school athletes in Mankato, Minnesota.

España Pérez has served as an instructor in sport, exercise and performance psychology, coaching and teaching studies (tennis) and diversity and sport. She also has coached tennis for several years at several tennis clubs and as an assistant coach and head coach at Minnesota State. She has had numerous articles published, done extensive research and grant writing and attended and presented at conferences in the United States and internationally.

A native of Mexico City, Mexico, España Pérez graduated with is bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology from East Tennessee State in 2014. She received a master’s degree in sport and exercise psychology from Minnesota State in 2017 and a master’s degree in community mental health counseling from WVU in 2021 and her doctorate in sport, exercise and performance psychology in 2021, also from WVU.

She completed her national counselor examination (2020) and is a nationally certified counselor (2021) and will be a certifield mental performance consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

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