Since last September, Raze Up has become an unconventional safe haven for those looking for therapy options. Instead of meditation or traditional therapy, Raze Up offers customers a safe space to rage.
For LaQuawn Lynch, commonly known as Q Vessel, who is a chef and catering company owner as well as the owner of Raze Up, the decision to open a smash therapy room in the Bronx was personal.
“In the middle of the pandemic, I was looking for outlets to release my own stress, anxiety and grief. I tried meditating, and I even gave gun ranges a try,” he said. It wasn’t until Lynch found smash therapy himself that he came up with the idea to bring this form of therapy to the Bronx.
“It was an adventurous thing for me to try, and I figured it would benefit others, too,” he said.
Many South Bronx residents are no strangers to stress and grief. Hunts Point and Mott Haven have a higher rate of hospitalizations from mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression than the city’s average. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in 2018 the number of psychiatric hospitalizations, used to measure the rates of mental stress and illness, in Mott Haven and Melrose stood at 940 residents per 100,000 adults, compared to the citywide average of 676 per 100,000 residents.
Smash therapy is a form of rage therapy; a kind of therapy that encourages the exploration of emotions like anger, frustration, grief and more. Rage therapy can range from screaming to release emotions and more. Raze Up particularly offers customers a safe room with protective gear to smash a variety of glass objects.
We reached out to many experts, but none was able to comment on the effectiveness of this form of research because of its novelty.
Vessel has observed that the majority of the people who benefit from his smash therapy rooms are professionals with high-pressure jobs like teachers, doctors, social workers and more.
There isn’t much academic evidence to suggest that smash therapy works, but Vessel says he sees first-hand the benefits of having a place to release painful emotions.
“We often don’t get to explore levels of rage or anger. A lot of people in the neighborhood have lost people in their lives because of the pandemic and have no safe space to explore the rage they hold inside,” he said. “Here, there’s no pressure to be polite.”
Vessel, however, stressed that his business is not a replacement for traditional therapy with a professional therapist: “It goes hand-in-hand with therapy. Sometimes you have to talk about it, but sometimes you want to rage about it, and that’s okay, too.”
As additional help, Raze Up brings in therapists to host group discussions with community members — outside of smashing sessions. Vessel said that the business introduced this option because sometimes emotions start to flow during or after a smash session.
“Smashing isn’t always enough. It’s great to have a professional guiding discussions for those who need it,” he said.
In addition to the smash therapy and group sessions, Raze Up works hand-in-hand with the community for a variety of projects.
They recycle their smashing materials from Mott Haven, collecting all sorts of smashable items from the streets and local businesses to prevent trash from littering the neighborhood.
Additionally, they offer an internship program in partnership with Bronx Connect to offer entrepreneurship internships. Students learn about running a small business while also working at Raze Up. So far, every student that has been a part of the internship program has been from the Bronx.
Smash therapy sessions start with five-minute walk-ins for $25, but packages go up for larger groups and extended periods of time. Their location at 133 Lincoln Ave. is their first, but Vessel says he has plans to expand in the coming year to other communities in New York.