Noah Merl, LCSW

I'm Noah, founder of Athletic Acumen

As a former athlete, I uniquely understand the pressures that face athletes and how to navigate the obstacles that directly and indirectly arise from sports and performance. Being an athlete affects your physical and mental health, social life and personal identity, and it provides structure and motivation in life. Athletes historically have neglected and downplayed mental health issues and the mental side of performing, though they are affected by life stressors just like everybody else.

I understand this dynamic because I lived it. I was the two-year captain at Cal, a Division 1 soccer team that made the NCAA tournament all four years of my tenure. I was improving consistently, and all signs had me pointing to a successful professional career. I started nearly every game, and never missed a game from an injury. Then with 2:31 left in the final game of my collegiate career, the last game before the MLS Draft, I went into a tackle on a wet field, got the worst of it, and tore the posterior cruciate ligament in my left knee. To say it was devastating would be an understatement.

At that time even discussing therapy was seen as weakness, so I went through it alone. After a full year off, a bad knee, and no one knowing who I was anymore, I was able to make the Seattle Sounders roster, win a USL championship, and have a respectable professional career. I was not the same player physically, mentally, or emotionally after the injury, and the timing could not have been worse, but I did my best and made it work in soccer and in life. But what if I had sought guidance about how to navigate the experience, someone to hold me accountable to daily or weekly goals, someone who could teach me how to mentally train to perform at my best? I wonder what I might have been able to accomplish.

In 2008 I decided to pivot and pursue a career as a therapist, so I could be the person that I had needed. I have since been working with people to improve their lives, whether it's improvement in performance or with mental health or addiction. My two passions in life are coming together, and I genuinely enjoy helping people work through whatever challenges they face- between the lines, on the stage, at home, and between their ears. Overcoming performance anxiety, improving self-talk and concentration, supporting injury recovery, and weathering life transitions are among the many areas that we can address together to raise the ceiling and the floor.

I believe that no one knows you better than you know yourself. Together we can identify what is working for and against you, what patterns need to be broken or adjusted, and what coping skills can be learned and practiced to maximize your ability to be at your best when it matters most.

Contact me for a free initial consultation.

Qualifications and Education
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW 74059),
University of Maryland at Baltimore, Master of Social Work (MSW),
University of California at Berkeley, Bachelor of Arts (BA)

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