Resurface North is a brief mental health and wellness intervention, administered over two days, in a retreat style format. Dr. Susie McAfee (Registered Psychologist), owner of www.lifecentrepsychology.ca is the founder and facilitator of Resurface North. This program is a unique blend of surf therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and peer support.
Though in its infancy, preliminary research has demonstrated the utility of surf therapy for military and veteran populations with PTSD. Surf therapy is being applied globally for developmental and physical disabilities, autism, disadvantaged youth, and those living in war torn regions, just to name a few. The International Surfing Therapy Organization (ISTO) was recently founded with a mission to support surf therapy in becoming an evidence-based practice for mental and physical health. Currently there are no surf therapy programs for PTSD or other mental health conditions available in Canada.
The vast majority of surf therapy programs out there focus exclusively, or almost exclusively, on time in the water. Evidence is clear that this alone has significant positive effects. However, it is my hope that blending the physical experience of surfing and deeper interpersonal experiences using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) will yield an even greater benefit and lasting impact.
All surf therapy programs involve a high level of peer support. In California that usually happens in a lovely circle on the beach wearing board shorts and bikinis….but um, no, not here. Brrrr. The retreat format is essential in allowing sufficient time for participants to connect with one another comfortably. Peer support helps with therapeutic goals like destigmatization, normalization, exposure for social anxiety symptoms, positive interactions for depressive symptoms, softening armour to allow vulnerability, or just feeling HUMAN without all the labels.
So that's the vision and I'm kinda stoked so I hope you'll join me!
Dr. Susie McAfee has almost 15 years experience as a psychologist and 3 short years as a surfer.