Surf Therapy – A wave of change

For the past decade, Surf Therapy as an alternative form of healing has been gathering momentum. Organisations from across the globe combine the therapeutic elements of the ocean with the adventure of surfing to positively impact lives of individuals from all walks of life. But what exactly is Surf Therapy? What does it do? More importantly, how can we get more people in the water benefiting from its unique healing ability?

Waves for Change is stoked to be part of a newly formed Institute for Surf Therapy, whose mission it is to find answers to these questions, whilst at the same time working to develop simple tools that can help connect more people to the water. The Institute comprises a global network of organisations using Surf Therapy to promote physical and mental wellbeing in differing social contexts.

The Institute will launch at a workshop in Cape Town on the 25th – 30th September. Waves for change will be joined by seven surf organisations – A Walk on Water, Kind Surf, Surfers Healing, the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, the Wave Project, Wave by Wave and Waves of Wellness – alongside representatives from the World Surf League (WSL) and the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA), and research experts from the University of Edinburgh and the University of New South Wales.

The group will share existing research and practical experience to define the various outcomes Surf Therapy organisations are seeing around the world. They will develop a simple handbook to help surf organisations structure programmes and measure impact, supporting the growth of new projects and facilitating access to Surf Therapy programmes globally! All the findings from the workshop will shared and made available.

Advocating the work of the Surf Therapy Institute is Ocean Science specialist and author of international best-seller ‘Blue Mind’ Wallace J Nichols:

“Ten years ago, for many it was unimaginable that doctors and medical professionals would prescribe surf therapy as an important part of a healing regime. Ten years from now it will be common.

This endeavor is going to save, improve and heal lives because waves are medicine for those who need them most. It gives us additional justification for protection and restoration of waterways and oceans, adding powerful new tools to the conservation and environmental communication toolbox.”

By bringing together the best researchers with experienced practitioners in the sector, it is the hope of the Institute to advance the understanding of what Surf Therapy can achieve, and improve the capacity of organisations worldwide to deliver impactful programmes that can ultimately change lives.