Basketball as Psycho-Social Therapy for Adolescents in Psychiatric Hospitalization


  • Jerry Mittleman Ziv Hospital, Safad, Israel, Summit Institute, Jerusalem, Mazor Hospital in Acre, Israel
  • Ayala Iuchtman Ziv Hospital, Safad, Isael
  • Uri Yatzker Ziv Hospital, Safad, Isael


Psychosocial therapy, basketball, mindfulness, hospitalization, mental health, adolescent


The positive contribution of physical activity to physical and mental health is well known, and sport is among the forms of physical activity that are being increasingly utilized in the prevention and treatment of people with emotional disorders. The use of individual sports, such as martial arts, horseback riding, and outdoor adventure programs, are known for their therapeutic qualities of enhancing personal growth and facilitation of overcoming emotional obstacles. On the other hand, the potential of team sports to promote social skills in addition to individual growth has been relatively undeveloped. This paper presents a program that attempts to achieve therapeutic benefits from basketball in a structured, adolescent psychiatric inpatient, hospital setting.  Emotional, interpersonal, and behavioral problems often result in social stigma and self-distancing which retard the social development of adolescents with emotional difficulties. The condition of hospitalization can often exacerbate these limitations. Basketball can be an additional mode of treatment during hospitalization, and we will describe a program that uses specific aspects of the sport for improving nonverbal and verbal communication skills, social functioning and strengthening self-esteem. The conclusions are based upon interviews of the participants, the authors’ observations and anecdotal reports.

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Author Biographies

Jerry Mittleman, Ziv Hospital, Safad, Israel, Summit Institute, Jerusalem, Mazor Hospital in Acre, Israel

Jerry Mittleman is a social worker and accredited family and marriage therapist who directed the family and marriage therapy service in Ziv hospital’s child and adolescence mental health center. In addition, he has been a basketball journalist for nearly 30 years. Mittleman retired from the hospital several years ago and is currently working with a basketball program for emotionally disabled young adults in rehabilitation at Summit Institute in Jerusalem and at Mazor Hospital in Acre doing basketball therapy with inpatients diagnosed with schizophrenia and drug addiction.   

Ayala Iuchtman, Ziv Hospital, Safad, Isael

Ayula Iuchtman is an applied behavioral analyst, a special education teacher who works in the school for the residents of the hospital’s inpatient adolescent psychiatric unit. She studied physical activity as therapy at Israel’s Wingate Institute and is also the director of the hospital’s educational program for adolescents with emotional difficulties who are in danger of school dropout.  

Uri Yatzker, Ziv Hospital, Safad, Isael

Dr. Uri Yatzker is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and director of the hospital’s child and adolescent Mental Health services including the Adolescent Inpatient unit and outpatient Child and Adolescent Clinic.





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