We have created a new approach to mental health support, with a trained practitioner offering therapy while young people box in an inner-city boxing gym.

We have developed Box Therapy to knock down the barriers that young people face in gaining mental health support.

In the deprived neighbourhoods in which we work, poor mental health is often considered a weakness and not talked about. Clinic-based talking therapy can be intimidating and prevent young people from dropping their guard. Few of the young people we work with want to sit in a room with somebody they barely know and start talking about the problems that they face.

BoxTherapy offers young people an enjoyable, non-stigmatising experience. Based in a gym, a qualified therapist weaves in therapy in between coaching boxing. Rather than access a mental health service, young people participate in sport and gain support naturally. Young people learn to manage their emotions, reduce negative behaviours and make changes in their lives to build good mental health.

Box Therapy enables young people to:

  • Hold natural conversations with a professional on neutral ground
  • Quickly build rapport with a therapist
  • Cathartically express emotions in a safe, controlled environment
  • Make physiological changes through the release of ‘feelgood’ brain chemicals, such as serotonin
  • Build self-esteem and confidence through increased fitness and improved boxing skills

Our sports-based approach is having considerable success. Young people are achieving changes far quicker than in a clinic environment. We now deliver Box Therapy across all of our delivery sites.

In 2021 we supported 348 young people in Box Therapy:

  • 87% are more optimistic about their future
  • 82% feel they have been dealing with problems well
  • 81% feel better about themselves
  • 73% feel they’ve been able to make up their own mind about things  

(Measured by the Edinburgh Warwick Scale)

To refer a young person for Box Therapy, email info@empirefightingchance.org