Surf Therapy: A Powerful Tool for Mental Health Treatment 

teen participating in surf therapy

Surf therapy, also known as surf-based therapy or ocean therapy, is a form of therapeutic intervention that utilizes surfing and the ocean environment to promote mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It involves structured sessions led by trained professionals, such as therapists, counselors, or surf instructors, who guide participants through surfing activities to achieve therapeutic goals. 

What is Surf Therapy? 

Surf therapy is a form of therapy that incorporates the ocean and surfing into mental health treatment. It involves using surfing and the natural environment of the ocean as a tool for improving mental health, well-being, and personal growth. Surf therapy aims to provide adolescents a therapeutic outlet to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges while promoting a sense of connection to nature and community. 

Surf therapy programs come in different forms, like one-on-one or group sessions. They often include cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and hands-on learning. These programs help improve self-esteem while helping teens learn how to deal with problems. They create a safe space for personal growth and healing.  

We have seen great success with Surf Therapy at Beachside Teen Treatment Center. This addition to our teen mental health treatment is led by Shaka Surf Club, a top surf therapy program in Southern California. 

teen mental health treatment center that offers surf therapy

Is Surfing Safe for Teens? 

Your teen’s safety is our top priority, especially during outdoor activities. Our partners, Shaka Surf Club, and our staff are experts in providing fun and safe experiences. Not only that, but our iconic Malibu beaches are some of the safest and most beautiful around.  

Our clients love the proximity to the ocean and have found the experience to be both rewarding and fun. Overall this therapy helps teens exit their comfort zone, confront possible fears, and have fun trying something new. 

The Benefits of Surf Therapy: 

  • Mental Health: The healing nature of surfing and being in the ocean can reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. The sense of freedom, mindfulness, and relaxation experienced while surfing can help alleviate mental health conditions and improve overall well-being. Children and adolescents struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health challenges have experienced significant improvements through physical activity. 

“Following our adolescents’ weekly surf therapy sessions, they return rejuvenated, having undergone an experience uniquely obtained in the expansive embrace of an open body of water.”

Christine Tonoli, Executive Director, Beachside Teen Treatment Center
  • Emotional Regulation: Surfing can serve as a means of self-expression and emotional release. Teens can feel happy and proud when they learn new things and face their fears. This can help them better control their better and become more resilient. Surf therapy also serves as a new outlet for self and emotional expression.   
  • Social Connection: Surf therapy programs often foster a supportive and inclusive community environment. Participants build relationships, teamwork skills, and a sense of belonging through shared experiences in the water and group activities. Teens often isolate themselves because they are grappling with immense emotions and trials for the first time in their life. Programs like surf therapy allow them the opportunity to connect with one another and realize they aren’t alone in what they’re going through.  

“Our surf therapy program is created to harness the therapeutic power of nature to instill resilience, courage, mindfulness, and hope in young hearts, guiding them on a journey towards a brighter and more fulfilling future.”

Shaka Surf Club

Surf Therapy at Beachside Teen

Every adolescent enrolled in the Beachside Teen Treatment Program has the opportunity to have Surf Therapy sessions with the Shaka Surf Club on a weekly basis. This not only provides them with a chance to acquire new skills but also fosters a sense of regularity and stability crucial for their healing process. Clients often make remarkable progress within the initial sessions, and they continue to show significant improvements as they continue treatment. 

Surf therapy is more than just learning how to surf; it can be an incredible addition to one’s treatment plan as it promotes growth and resilience. If your teen is struggling to share their emotions or see the benefits of treatment — a behavioral health program such as Beachside Teen might be better suited for their success.