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Jump, run, thrive: How sports can be therapeutic

Published On: 10-22-2015 in Category: recovery, Rehab, Therapy, Treatment


Growing up, most children have fond memories of being on a sports team as a child or teenager. Some continue and make the sport a profession, others pass on to something else. Regardless, being on a sports team can bring children together in neighborhoods who have never been given the opportunity to join a team. An organization uses sports to help at-risk teens in group-style therapy.

Do the good

The nonprofit organization, the Doc Wayne Foundation, strives “To fuse sport and therapy to heal and strengthen youth,” as explained on its website. Children who struggle with mental or behavioral issues and children who have a rough life, need others. Located here in Boston, Massachusetts, the Doc Wayne foundation uses sports with a mix of dialectal behavioral therapy, or DBT, to give teens a place to support one another and seek help.

The foundation’s, “Sports-based therapeutic curriculum, called do the good [DtG],” helps at risk, “youth learn to perceive the world as less threatening and their ability to interact with their environment becomes more empowered and they gain greater self-esteem.” The foundation has recently won the 2015 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award, for continuing a program of positive physical and mental health in children.

There may be teens and children who do not want help or therapy, and struggle with their issues alone. Through the Doc Wayne Foundation, these teens are able to begin the first steps to a better future with support and care from others.

Dialectal behavioral therapy

The foundation uses group therapy and DBT. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, describes DBT to include:

1.Individual psychotherapy

2.Group skills training

3.Sometimes phone consultations

The key difference with DBT from other therapies is the factor of validation, “A powerful tool whereby the therapist and the patient work on ‘accepting’ uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and behaviors rather than struggling with them,” NAMI explains. For at risk youth dealing with mental or behavioral issues, therapy in the form of sports or involvement with other teens going through similar issues can be more effective than individual sessions.

“Once an identified thought, emotion or behavior has been validated, the process of change no longer appears impossible, and the goals of gradual transformation become reality,” NAMI adds. The coaches at Doc Wayne Foundation are specially trained to provide a program which:

1.Promotes a youth’s personal development

2.Improves capacity for pro-social relationships

3.Maximizes capacity for inclusion and participation in therapy and school

4.Provides an experience the youth can apply to all other aspects of their lives on and off the field

This foundation and the program are an excellent example of building a community of positive health views. Too often, at risk children are left alone or thought less of; this program gives them a place to thrive and become a part of society. If you or a loved one continue to struggle with behavioral or mental health issues, do not hesitate to seek treatment today. The road to recovery is long, but always starts with the first step.

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