“Some people think surfing is a relationship with the sea…but surfing is really a relationship between you and yourself. The sea is going to do whatever it wants.”

― Charmaine Wilkerson

Say Aloha to the Healing Waves of Surf Therapy

Treatment

Deeply ingrained in Hawaiian culture for hundreds of years, surfing traces its origins to the early Polynesian settlers of the Hawaiian Islands. This ancient sport, known as ‘heʻe nalu’ in the Hawaiian language, was a crucial aspect of Hawaiian society, deeply intertwined with their spiritual and social practices.

With the arrival of Christian missionaries in the 1820s, surfing, along with many other Hawaiian cultural practices, faced severe suppression. During this challenging time, Native Hawaiians found solace in the ocean as a traditional sanctuary; because of this, surfing became the Hawaiian cultural symbol synonymous with the island of Maui.

What is Surf Therapy?

Surf therapy is a therapeutic approach that harnesses the healing power of the ocean and surfing to promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It involves structured surf sessions guided by experienced therapists or instructors, tailored to meet the individual needs of participants. Surf therapy sessions typically take place in the ocean, where individuals learn to ride waves using surfboards.

The core principles of surf therapy revolve around the therapeutic benefits of being in the water, engaging in physical activity, and connecting with nature. Surfing requires focus, balance, and coordination, which can help individuals develop skills such as mindfulness, resilience, and confidence. The rhythmic motion of the waves and the sound of the ocean can also have a calming effect, reducing stress and promoting relaxation.Surf therapy is often used as a complementary treatment for various mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse disorders. This experimental type of therapy encourages personal growth, emotional expression, and social connection by immersing participants in a supportive and empowering environment. Surf therapy also offers a unique and dynamic approach to healing, allowing individuals to experience the transformative power of the ocean while fostering resilience and well-being.

Why Surf Therapy?

Surfing serves as a powerful tool for promoting presence, focus, and grounding in the moment—qualities essential for individuals grappling with traumatic memories or substance abuse disorders. For those on the path to recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, surfing symbolizes finding balance amidst life’s challenges.

At Maui Recovery, we embrace Surf Therapy as an innovative approach that taps into the ancient healing energies of the ocean while addressing mental health issues and fostering personal growth. This unique therapeutic method integrates psychotherapy with the transformative benefits of surfing, offering a holistic approach to healing conditions such as anxiety, depression, and addiction recovery.

Surf therapy has garnered recognition from addiction psychiatrists for its effectiveness, particularly among veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), combat stress, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other life-altering injuries. By immersing individuals in the healing embrace of the ocean, surf therapy provides a dynamic and empowering platform for overcoming adversity and reclaiming a sense of balance and well-being.

Benefits of Maui Recovery’s Surf Therapy

There are many proven benefits of surf therapy, including:

Physical Exercise

Surfing is a physically demanding sport that enhances overall fitness, strength, and balance. Engaging in Surf Therapy releases endorphins, nature’s “feel-good” mood lifters, which are particularly beneficial during addiction recovery as they help reduce cravings and promote well-being.

Mindfulness and Presence

Surfing requires a high level of concentration and presence in the moment. This act serves as a mindfulness practice, redirecting worried thoughts away from the past or future and onto the immediate experience of surfing. The physical challenges of surfing mirror the emotional and mental processes that individuals may be navigating, fostering deeper self-awareness and emotional resilience.

Connection with Nature

Immersing oneself in the ocean and connecting with its natural rhythms can be profoundly healing and grounding. Surf Therapy offers an opportunity to find peace, purpose, and perspective while embracing the waves of Maui’s pristine coastline, fostering a deeper connection with nature and the self.

Stress Reduction

The combination of physical activity, focus, and the calming presence of the ocean significantly reduces stress, anxiety, and insomnia. For individuals in recovery, Surf Therapy provides a healthy outlet for learning stress management techniques and cultivating inner peace amidst life’s challenges.

Building Confidence and Resilience

Learning to surf is a transformative journey that boosts confidence and resilience. Facing and overcoming the challenges of surfing, such as maintaining balance or catching a wave, parallels the challenges encountered in recovery, empowering individuals to overcome obstacles and thrive in their journey toward healing and self-discovery.

Maui Recovery’s Surf Therapy in Hawaii

At Maui Recovery, we offer a personalized and holistic approach to addiction treatment and mental health recovery. Our individualized care plans address each client’s unique needs, integrating evidence-based therapies with holistic wellness practices. 

Through Adventure Therapy programs, clients explore Maui’s natural beauty, finding inspiration and growth through outdoor experiences. Our experienced team of therapists and counselors provides compassionate support, guiding clients through every step of their recovery journey.

Embracing the rich Hawaiian culture, our programs offer culturally immersive experiences that deepen the healing process. Set in Maui’s serene environment, our residential facility provides a tranquil sanctuary for reflection and healing. With our unique approach and unwavering commitment to our client’s well-being, we strive to make a difference in the journey to recovery.

Maui Recovery offers treatment based in the traditions of Hawaii, allowing clients to participate in holistic adventure therapy and surf therapy programs to help heal from addiction and mental health.

Learn More About Our One-of-a-Kind Surf Therapy Program

Surf therapy uniquely blends physical exertion, mental concentration, and emotional well-being, making it an ideal therapeutic avenue for individuals navigating addiction recovery.

We embrace a holistic healing approach, empowering clients to cultivate new energies within their being and reconnect with their authentic selves. In Hawaii, water symbolizes life itself, offering profound healing and rejuvenation. Contact us today to learn more about surf therapy and our other comprehensive treatment services.

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OUR Team

Meet our team

Amory Mowrey

MPH | Executive Director | CASAC-T | CRPA | CARC

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Dr. Reza Danesh

Medical Director | MD

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Wayne Bellinger

Operations Manager

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Tricia Silva

Licensed Mental Health Counselor | Board Certified Member of the NBCC

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Kate O’Donnell

Client Wellness Manager

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Dr. Bradley Kuo

DNP, M.Ed., FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, CARN-AP

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Blake Rudolf

Program Assistant

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Daniel Alas

Program Assistant

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Josh

Surf Therapist

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Blue

Trained Service and Therapy Dog

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Aka

Trained Service and Therapy Dog

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Maui Recovery

We’ve created a Recovery Program combining Holistic Wellness, Best-Practice Care, Nature & Transformative Experiences to help clients achieve lasting Recovery. 

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If you’re struggling with an addiction or know a friend or family member who is, reach out to one of our experts today. We’re here for you.