Play to the Whistle: A Pilot Investigation of a Sports-Based Intervention for Traumatized Girls in Residential Treatment

Abstract

Adolescents in residential treatment settings have symptoms that prevent them from participation in normal youth activities, which in turn prevent development of social skills and competencies. A sports-based intervention called “Do the Good” (DtG) was designed for this population using trauma-informed treatment principles. This paper describes the intervention model and presents outcome data. A total of 88 female residential students aged 12 to 21 participated, including 62 students voluntarily enrolled in the sports league and 26 treatment-as-usual (TAU) comparisons. Positive behaviors (e.g., helping peers, perseverance) during games were observed and coded for sports league participants and their coaches. Mental health charts of DtG and TAU participants were reviewed for behavior and symptoms prior to program participation, and again post-program. Girls in the sports league exhibited reductions in restraints and time-outs, as well as internalizing and externalizing symptoms. These data provide evidence that sports-based interventions present a promising adjunctive approach for traumatized youth.

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Correspondence to Wendy D’Andrea.

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The authors would like to thank Susan Wayne, Johnna Marcus, Hannah Flack and Jonathan DePierro for their contributions to this manuscript. The first author would like to dedicate this paper to memory of Dr. James Hansell (1955–2013), whose writing on sports and psychotherapy informed and inspired the research presented here.

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D’Andrea, W., Bergholz, L., Fortunato, A. et al. Play to the Whistle: A Pilot Investigation of a Sports-Based Intervention for Traumatized Girls in Residential Treatment. J Fam Viol 28, 739–749 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-013-9533-x

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Keywords

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Complex trauma
  • Sports
  • Adolescents
  • Residential treatment
  • Positive youth development