Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Nancy Freymond

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Mental health problems in adolescents place them on a trajectory for ongoing difficulties into adulthood. Treating youth with affective disorders using conventional interventions such as medication and talk therapy can be problematic. Important questions have been raised about the efficacy and safety of medications and some youths’ willingness to engage in counseling. There is, therefore, a need for constant attention to innovative and youth focused treatment options.

Since 2006, Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada has offered youth diagnosed primarily with depression and anxiety an opportunity to address their mental illness with the alternative treatment of running. The purpose of this qualitative study was to develop a comprehensive knowledge of how youth with affective disorders experience a running group therapy program. The data is comprised of three focus groups and an individual interview. The data was analyzed thematically. The running group therapy program enables the youth to build running skills, experience the success of completing a race, while at the same time providing them with the opportunity to develop social skills. Overall, youth reported positive experiences and linked this therapy with elevated mood. Many youth reported a plan to continue to use running outside of the group to manage their moods.

This study reports on the implications of running therapy for youth mental health treatment and the field of social work.

Convocation Year


Included in

Social Work Commons