A method of intervention combining surf instructing/surfing and structured individual or group activities that promote psychological, physical, and psychosocial well-being. - International Surf Therapy Organization (ISTO)
" We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken. " - Wallace J Nichols, Blue Mind, 2014
Within the last decade, research has begun to confirm what many of us have known for generations, that our minds and bodies are connected to water. The ocean offers gifts of solace, joy, challenge, and community. All of which create a conducive space for healing.
While the ocean helps create a therapeutic space, surfing provides a perfect model for many clinical practices. Interventions such as mindfulness, cognitive restructuring, self-compassion, emotional-regulation, and resiliency, are all modeled through surfing. Surf therapy offers an opportunity to organically help participants learn to incorporate clinical practices into their lives.
Forming a community by the water is an important part of surf therapy. Community by the water to us means being mindful and
accepting of the diverse backgrounds and experiences we all come from, to create a safe space for all, while healing and enjoying the sport of surfing.
"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf."
- Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mental health is a shared human experience, it's a part of our unique journeys. Living with mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and trauma, can have such an impact on our wellbeing. The ocean, and surfing, offer so many gifts to help us learn to surf the waves of mental health towards a more well life.
Relationships with the ocean and the sport of surfing are diverse across cultures. For some cultures, there's significant generational trauma that exists around water. Additionally, surf culture and our beaches here on the East Coast are predominately white spaces. This may make surf therapy feel uncomfortable, or even unsafe, for BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+ folks. We acknowledge that, and we honor that. Part of our vision is to help dissolve some of these barriers and create safe spaces on our beaches by welcoming people of all cultures and backgrounds, and meeting them where they're at with intersectional solidarity.