GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WLNS) – Surf therapy is quickly gaining a global following, including here in Michigan.

It’s defined as a “method of intervention combining surf instruction or surfing and structured individual or group activities that promote psychological, physical and psychosocial wellbeing.”

Sharing this effective therapy with veterans and first responders is why west Michigan based nonprofit Third Coast Rising exists.

Third Coast Rising veteran contact Mark Cox first learned of surfing’s benefits while serving in the Air Force.

“I think it’s going to be so awesome for veterans and first responders to get out here as they don’t have to think about the past or the future worries they might have. I just think about the moment,” said Cox.

Grand Haven Public Safety Lieutenant and first responder contact Ryan Enlow was one of the first to go through the eight-week program,

“You know, going from kind of having a counseling type session on the beach where we talk about challenges. And overcoming some of those things and then getting into the water, experiencing a challenge, having success with it, and then coming back and talking about what that was like,” Enlow said. “You know, I’ve got a lot of folks I know in the police service, fire service on the medical service who, struggle.”

It’s those people Third Coast Rising founder Shelly Ritter really wants to reach with surf therapy.

“They kind of incorporate mind, body connection, to help approach issues such as like PTSD, anxiety, depression, and more,” said Ritter.

She’s hearing great things from participants.

“After our first eight-week program, just getting that feedback that it really is effective, that it’s working. And people are seeing some relief to those symptoms with so exciting,” Ritter said.

Enlow shares these words of wave wisdom.

“You know, stop getting pounded in the face by waves, find the right direction, find the right group of people. And you’re gonna have an easier time kind of being carried along with life. Just like you’re carried along with the waves.”