Kris Primacio: "Surf therapy creates genuine connections"

Lucy Donoughue
By Lucy Donoughue,
updated on Oct 1, 2021

Kris Primacio: "Surf therapy creates genuine connections"

Kris Primacio, CEO of ISTO, shares how surfing changed her life, the wonders of surf therapy and the incredible upcoming International Surf Therapy Organisation Conference taking place in Cornwall and online from 6-8 October

Kris Primacio exudes a deep passion for surfing, the ocean and the healing powers of nature and the water. So, as CEO of the International Surf Therapy Organisation, she’s perfectly placed to use her passions for a very great purpose, and to share the wonders of surf therapy with an audience beyond its current advocates.

That’s exactly what Kris is doing, not only on Happiful’s podcast but also at the International Surf Therapy Organisation Conference, taking place from 6-8 October, hosted in Cornwall and online, by The Wave Project.

Kris on...

Her own relationship with surfing

  • I started surfing when I was 41 years old, so a note to every listener and reader - it’s never too late to start surfing! Go surf, get on the water!

  • I felt an instant connection to the ocean and that adrenaline rush that you get when you’re flying down the surface of a wave. You get all those feel-good emotions.

I schedule my days around the tides, the waves and the wind

  • Surfing has shaped me profoundly; my lifestyle, where I shop, my career path, where I volunteer, the movies I watch and the podcasts I listen to, the books I read. I care so deeply about the ocean because of my daily exposure. I’ve reduced my plastic consumption massively and pick up trash on the beach every single day. I fly less, I drive less - I am so cognisant of my footprint.

  • I schedule my days around the tides, the waves and the wind and I have centered my life around it, personally and professionally, since I started surfing.

Surf Therapy

  • Surf Therapy is a method of intervention that combines surf instruction and group activities to promote psychological, physical and psychosocial wellbeing.

  • Programmes deliver surf therapy to the most underserved populations in the world, such as veterans in the Netherlands, firefighters in South Korea, individuals from post-conflict in Liberia, sex trafficking survivors in California, first responders in Cornwall, Chernobyl survivors living in Ireland and men recently released from prison in New Zealand and some of the most vulnerable youth from some of the most violent townships in South Africa. There are so many populations that are being reached, across six continents.

  • Our participants come to find a respite and we create genuine connections between individuals. We replace the four walls and a roof for sand between our toes, wind in our hair and saltwater in the air.

On ISTO Conference 2021

  • Our discussion topics are relevant for those who are just getting started with surf therapy and those who have been practising for decades. This year, our discussion is around building trust.

  • We're purposefully bringing together change-makers in surf therapy, scientists, researchers, therapy practitioners and beneficiaries.

  • I'm really excited to dive into the deep end at this year's conference and hope that as many people as possible can join us. We'll wrap up the entire event with a worldwide paddle out to recognise World Mental Health Day.

Listen to the full episode of I am. I have with Kris Primacio.
Find out more about the International Surf Therapy Organisation Conference and book tickets here.
Find out more about the International Surf Therapy Organisation.

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