Surfing Therapy – Mental Health Benefits

Mental health issues among young people are no longer a top priority for public health and social responsibility. The increasing number of suicides in schools, high school drop-outs and adults with severe mental health disorders is startling. Surf therapy is a novel intervention which might help address this new health burden worldwide. While increasing anecdotal evidence shows the effectiveness of surfing therapy, there’s been very little research as to how effectively it achieves these results.

Surfing In History

Surfing practices have existed since the late 19th century, when the first wetsuits were developed to help surfers deal with cold water and rough surf surfaces. At first, few institutions offered therapeutic treatment or therapeutic programs for surfing conditions as they were considered quackery and a poor treatment for patients suffering from psychological disorders. Today, more facilities are offering treatments tailored to each and every client’s needs. In fact, some health professionals are calling this new behavioral form of treatment “surfing therapy.” Based on its incorporation of holistic principles, this new approach to mental health has drawn many advocates and experts to the sport.

The use of “traditional” psychotherapy techniques may seem awkward to those used to more “scientific,” less emotional methods of mental health treatment. Surfing therapy, however, is quite different from traditional approaches. For instance, the treatment centre at the Surf and Fitness Academy at Fullerton College in Orange County focuses on preventing traumatic stress from developing into a debilitating condition, such as depression or anxiety. This may seem strange to those used to counselling or other such therapies geared towards more “traditional” Western ways of thinking. However, it has been found that surfing can help surfers deal with post-traumatic stress because the sport instils a feeling of self-empowerment through mastery of the environment and one’s individual body. With this empowerment comes greater confidence and motivation to conquer one’s fears and do the things that need to be done in order to move forward and improve themselves.

What Are The Benefits To Surfing?

There are many benefits to surfers who seek out this mental health treatment. One such benefit is that surfers who participate in surfing therapy find it extremely helpful in reducing their symptoms associated with anxiety, depression and other common mental health conditions. This is likely due to the fact that the sport requires them to master a variety of skills, requiring both physical and mental stamina that can be challenging for some people. In addition to this, the sport requires one to move quickly and stay focused when confronted with waves that reach unbelievable depths. This requires an individual to focus on their strengths, while ignoring weaknesses. By doing this, the mental conditioning gained during surfing is very helpful in the long run.

Mental health is becoming more important due to the large number of aging individuals throughout the country. This is also a great time to take advantage of surfing therapy, especially for surfers who were unable to participate in the sport as teens due to various factors. Surf therapists can help individuals overcome their issues that may have been inhibiting their performance. Many of these issues are related to stress and by participating in regular therapy sessions, those suffering from mental health issues will find that they can reduce their symptoms and improve their overall mental health. As well, many participants will find that surfing will provide a form of exercise that is difficult to get most people interested in.


In conclusion, we can consider surf therapy to be one of the best ways to improve one’s mental health. Surfing not only provides a great physical workout, but the sport is also mentally stimulating. The sport has proven to be a tremendous boon for surf enthusiasts. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise if these activities are used as a way to improve one’s mental health.