Written by Sarah Ramsey, a non-profit management intern at Doc Wayne.
When you think of therapy, what do you picture?
Most of us imagine a therapist or clinician seated at their desk, directly across from a patient. Maybe some would even think of Freud and imagine the client lying on a couch, spilling their childhood troubles. Doc Wayne provides a unique form of therapy that utilizes the power of sport.
Picture a small grassy field in Framingham, MA. There is a group of seven kids playing soccer and flag football. Laughter, encouragement, and sometimes competitive jousting are heard. Three coaches are also present, playing alongside the kids. This is Doc Wayne’s version of therapy, and it works.
This week, I was lucky enough to leave the Boston office of Doc Wayne and participate in two of our Chalk Talk® Sport-Based Group Therapy sessions. Doc Wayne fuses sport and therapy to heal and strengthen at risk youth. Chalk Talk® Sport-Based Therapy groups are clinician led groups, which are assembled by age and location, and held weekly. The group I observed was playing soccer, but groups also play flag football, basketball, and participate in indoor rowing. The groups teach principles of do the good®, Doc Wayne’s curriculum, using both didactic and interactive approaches.
Upon arriving, the children gathered into a “Circle Up.” We went around the circle stating a “Kick” (a current positive point in our life) and a “Miss (a low point). Then it was time for a warm up. We played freeze tag with soccer balls. Once you were tagged and frozen, the only way to become unfrozen was to have a teammate pass you a soccer ball. Most of the kids were eager to get out there and move. They volunteered to be “it,” and played hard despite the heat. There were a few kids who did not participate fully, but the coaches encouraged them to engage at their own level and met them where they were at. This choice by the coaches really created a safe atmosphere for the participants.
Next up was a scrimmage. Two participants were selected as captains and they each chose their team made up of Doc Wayne coaches and kids. It was so much fun playing with the participants and it made me realize why Doc Wayne is so special. Doc Wayne allows these kids to be kids. It sounds simple enough, but so many of these participants are carrying burdens that no child should have to carry, whether it is mental illness, abuse, etc. Doc Wayne programs give them an hour out of their day to kick the soccer ball, joke with coaches, show off their skills, and encourage each other.
My favorite part of the visit, was the “Circle Up” after we had finished the scrimmage. Kids gave each other “Shout Outs” for playing hard, giving encouragement, etc. Not only is Doc Wayne a safe and fun environment for the kids, but it also teaches them important social skills such as being respectful of others, and gives them confidence and affirmation.
I am so proud to be a member of Doc Wayne for the summer and can’t wait to see how Doc Wayne keeps changing the game for at risk youth.
For more information on Doc Wayne please visit http://www.docwayne.org or follow us on twitter @DocWayneDtG.