Saltwater Sessions™

Launch is proud to be in partnership with Saltwater Sessions™ a unique program designed to help people recover from addiction. With a surfboard.

Surfing isn’t easy. Neither is sobriety. Life, like the ocean, can be unpredictable. Saltwater Sessions gives participants the skills they need to stay on board. In the water and in life. Saltwater sessions combines the meditative practice of mindfulness with the invigorating challenge of surfing in a way that empowers clients with tools to sustain long-term recovery.

The program meets once a week for eight weeks. Each of the eight sessions is organized around a theme that frames the challenges and rewards of surfing as metaphors for life on dry land.  Participants learn how to shift their perception from feelings of frustration and difficulty to an in-the-moment awareness of the ocean environment, their own bodies, and the content of their minds. These experiential acts of mindfulness reduce frustration and reactivity. Attention becomes rooted in the moment, and experience becomes something to cherish rather than escape. Most importantly with regards to the treatment of addiction, participants are empowered to transform their own emotional response to reality.

Additionally, activity in the presence of nature has been shown to improve both mental and physical health, reducing stress, improving attention capacity, mood, and general well being. Surfing produces a powerful rush of neurochemicals associated with happiness and well-being, including oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine. This rush of chemicals has positive effects in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression, which are strongly associated with substance abuse and addiction.

For many, surfing goes beyond sport and is often described as spiritual, sacred, and transcendent. Surfing’s potential to become an essential part of a participant’s life makes it an ideal practice for supporting long-term recovery. Surfing removes the participant from habitual environments that can provoke substance use and provides a pathway into communities based around physical activity and nature.

Through mindfulness, participants form alternative responses to situations that lead to addictive behavior, dismantling the neurological cycle of addiction. After only eight weeks of mindfulness practice, participants show growth in regions of the brain associated with awareness, introspection, improved memory, emotional regulation, and compassion. Mindfulness decreases gray matter density in regions of the brain associated with anxiety and stress. It changes how our minds work, shifting us away from processing reality in relation to past memories and experiences, and towards a mode of awareness rooted in the present moment.

Saltwater Sessions was developed by Lena Dicken, Psy.D. and was adapted from her doctoral dissertation entitled, Surfing as a Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Intervention for the Treatment of Addiction. For more information visit

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