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Surf Circle: Healing Trauma Through the Power of the Ocean

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Fifteen-year-old Ky’s first experience out on the water with us didn’t go as planned. He took a tumble, face-first into a washing-machine cyclone of foam. It’s a familiar experience for surfers, but Ky didn’t know that yet. Disoriented and seething with frustration, he considered giving up. That’s when Roberto, one of our group leaders, intervened.

This is just one snapshot of the transformative work we do at Surf Circle, a therapeutic surf program for adolescent boys. Our mission is to help these young men heal from trauma and navigate the complexities of life through the power of the ocean. Join us as we dive into the profound impact that surfing and therapy combined can have on these boys.

The Magic of Surfing

Surf Circle emerged from a collaboration between our clinical supervisors at WestCoast Children’s Clinic and our personal experiences as lifelong surfers. We recognized the potential of surfing as a tool for integration and healing, particularly for young people who have experienced trauma.

Each month, we gather with our group at Linda Mar Beach, just south of San Francisco. The session lasts three hours, with half dedicated to surfing and the other half to process-oriented therapeutic discussions. Over time, we’ve witnessed the profound impact this program has on the boys who participate.

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Nurturing Resilience in the Waves

The ocean, much like the boys’ own environments, can be volatile. It requires awareness, focus, and flexibility, just like navigating life’s challenges. The ocean serves as a powerful teacher, humbling and inspiring these young men as they face its unpredictable nature.

In joining Surf Circle, the boys not only learn to surf, but they also discover the power of vulnerability and the importance of healthy male relationships. We challenge outdated notions of masculinity and create a safe space for them to explore their emotions and experiences.

Authentic Connections and Mutual Learning

Authenticity is at the core of our work. When the boys see us genuinely passionate about surfing and deeply caring about each other, it establishes a sense of trust and connection. We meet them where they are, adapting to their needs, and guiding them through the challenges they face.

Through surfing, they learn not only how to ride waves but also how to care for themselves, each other, and their communities. It’s a true exchange of knowledge and experiences—an opportunity for us all to learn and grow together.

The Therapy in Surfing

Surfing itself becomes a therapeutic experience, allowing the boys to integrate trauma and process their emotions. In the water, they find freedom and connection. The ocean’s rhythms and the act of surfing provide respite from the chaos of their lives and open the door to profound conversations.

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Surfing serves as a catalyst for authentic engagement and communication. We observe the boys as they navigate the water, learning about their risk-taking tendencies, resilience, and willingness to accept feedback. The insights we gain from their experiences in the ocean inform our therapeutic approach.

The Healing Power of the Ocean

The ocean has a profound impact on our minds and bodies. As we bob on our boards, we witness moments of peaceful solitude and contemplation among the boys. And in these moments, deep conversations unfold, facilitated by the presence of the ocean itself.

Similar to how parents often find the best conversations with their children happen during car rides or shared activities, being in the water creates the ideal conditions for the boys to drop their guard and open up. It’s a delicate balance of emotional intimacy, fostering a safe environment for them to explore their thoughts and emotions.

Surf Circle: A Rite of Passage

When we hand a boy his first wetsuit and surfboard, we recognize the profound meaning behind this act. It’s a rite of passage, a symbol of their journey towards healing and self-discovery. Surf Circle provides a space where these boys can come fully into themselves, supported by a community that truly cares.

Join us at Surf Circle, where the power of the ocean and the healing benefits of therapy combine to create transformational experiences for the young men who embark on this journey. Ratingperson is proud to be a part of this incredible program.

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