April 17, 2012

Ocean Therapy with the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation

While brainstorming summer activities for clients that are served at my community mental health center, one of my coworkers mentioned The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation (JMMF), a surf charity organization dedicated to commemorating the life of professional surfer Jimmy Miller. After struggling from a severe mental disorder that led to his death in 2004, family and friends decided to keep his memory alive by supporting the mental health community with an "Ocean Therapy" program for both at-risk youth, held in Manhattan Beach, CA, and veterans, based at Camp Pendleton in San Diego.

The program is truly one-of-a-kind for participants. During ocean therapy sessions, surfers receive "individualized surfing instruction, while building self-efficacy and self-confidence in the participants through group-based discussion sessions."A team of expert surf instructors, psychologists, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, mental health professionals, and dedicated volunteers use surfing in tangent with the therapeutic properties of the ocean to help individuals manage symptoms related to PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and other affective disorders. Could this be the next evidence-based practice?

If you are a mental health professional working in Southern California, I highly recommend you visit the Ocean Therapy Schedule and think about referring your clients. Additionally, those interested in volunteering for the organization, they are always looking for beach and water volunteers.

Veteran Program, Camp Pendleton

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