top of page


What is Surf Therapy?

Surf therapy is a method of intervention combining surfing/surf instruction with structured individual or group activities that promote psychological, physical and psychosocial well-being. Surf therapy is different from surfing.  Surf therapy takes a structured approach to surfing in order to achieve a therapeutic benefit.

Surf Therapy, or Ocean Therapy, is a very recent development in psychotherapy treatment widely used for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), combat stress, depression, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other life-threatening injuries. Surf Therapy can be used to treat substance abuse disorders and co-occurring disorders associated with drug addiction. Surf Therapy utilises the ocean for its mental health benefits, such as increasing self-efficacy, alleviating insomnia, and improving cognitive concentration.

Surf therapy is effective because it breaks down many of the traditional barriers which can prevent people from accessing the support they need. Surfing is a non-threatening, exciting and new challenge for someone – especially if they have never considered doing it or thought it isn’t possible for them. When someone tries something new and succeeds in doing it, this teaches them that they can achieve something they didn’t know was possible. So just by learning to surf, their confidence, self-esteem and self-belief all grow stronger. They learn to stand up on the board, which helps them to stand up in life and believe in themselves.

Surfing also forces you to be present in the moment, which is so healthy for your brain. When you’re out in the water surfing, your brain has no capacity to be stressed about things from the past, or worried about things in the future. Surfing hijacks the brain (in a good way) and says “you’re here surfing right now, focusing on this and thinking about absolutely nothing else!”. Research measuring brainwave activity has shown that our brain literally changes in healthy and positive ways when we catch a wave!

There is also the obvious fact that surfing requires exercise and a person to be outside in a natural environment. Most people now agree, and more studies are showing that the effect of exercise and the natural environment on overall wellbeing is hugely positive. Many of our clients come from lifestyles where they rarely exercise or spend time outside in natural environments. So, as soon as they begin surfing regularly with us – exercising and spending time outside in a natural environment – they begin to experience these additional health benefits, not only to their physical bodies but also to their overall mental wellbeing.

Surf therapy is currently being used all around the world and plays a significant role globally in improving peoples’ health and wellbeing.

Target groups include, but are not limited to:

  • disadvantaged children and youth

  • people struggling with addiction

  • people involvedin the criminal justice system

  • people with post-traumatic stress disorder

  • people with depression or other forms of mental illness.

SUP Therapy

Also known as Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) Therapy, this adventure-based method has become increasingly popular over the years. It combines nature and yoga, where you get your cardiovascular workout and balance training as you bask in the warmth of the sun on calm waters.

SUP Therapy is a form of holistic experiential therapy for mind-body interventions, which is one of five domains in complementary and alternative healthcare and medical (CAM) practices, according to an article published in The International Journal of Health Sciences. When conventional face-to-face therapeutic interventions don’t work, clients get to choose the form of holistic therapy that seems most appealing, and in recent years, Paddleboard Therapy has become one of the most popular and successful.


When a therapist works with clients in a non-traditional setting like doing yoga exercises on a paddleboard, the therapist gets an opportunity to observe how clients respond to their surroundings. If paddleboarding is a new experience for clients, they literally get to test the waters while they are trying to learn something new and overcome their anxiety at the same time. SUP Therapy, like other types of experiential therapy, builds confidence in individuals when they manage to achieve their goals and gain new skills. Listed below are just a few of the many benefits of Paddleboard Therapy:

  • Confidence boost

  • Empowerment

  • Increased physical and mental strength

  • Relief from anxiety and stress

  • Increased self-esteem

Swansea Veterans Surf Club

Surf Therapy CIC works with Swansea Veterans RV and runs surf and SUP sessions every week at Caswell Beach, Gower. If you are an armed forces veteran and would like to get involved, please get in touch.

Participation on our surf therapy courses is by referral only. 

Referrals can be made by health care professionals, social services and other professional bodies and support services by contacting us here.

Family or self-referrals can be made here.

If you are unsure about the surf therapy programme or want to discuss anything in more detail, please do not hesitate to get in touch through our contacts page.

bottom of page