Interview With Josh Dickson, Clinical Director/Owner, Resurface UK

Josh Dickson is an accredited EMDR Consultant, an accredited FDAP Drug and Alcohol Professional, and a licensed Heartmath coach. He is also  the owner and director of Resurface (residential retreats addressing trauma, creativity, resilience and positive psychology), a group consultant at Start2Stop, co-Director of Flow Space, and in private practice. His practice is based in Fulham, SW6.

Thank you so much for joining us in this conversation. We would love to know your back story. When you were younger, what did you imagine your job would be? Also, when did you start surfing?

For years, I was a professional musician, retiring from that business in my mid-thirties. Fortunately, I had studied philosophy and psychology at university and always had an interest in the mind, consciousness, and human nature. Things fell into place when someone I really respect, my old GP, said that he thought I would be good as a therapist and a psychology journey was re-ignited. I got a job with Start2Stop, a London based rehab, and things really progressed from there. I started surfing when I was about 37/38. I had always enjoyed skateboarding when I was a kid and really loved snowboarding whenever I did it. Surfing seems like a logical continuation of that and I see it as the ultimate board sport.

At the Resurface UK retreats, is it necessary for an attendee to know how to surf? Are surf lessons offered?

Not at all. In fact, I would say 90% of people who have attended have never surfed before. There are surf lessons every day and we cater to all levels, from complete beginners, through intermediates, and up to advanced surfers.

Is therapy part of the retreat experience? What type of therapy is offered?

Therapy is a big part of the retreats. In the mornings, we have psycho-educational talks, workshops on subjects such as resilience, optimism, trauma, introspection, post-traumatic growth, and so on. In the afternoons, we have experiential group therapy sessions, and this is where the bulk of the work happens. The aim is always to find a corrective experience, not dig up the past or make people reveal what they don’t want to. And of course, we have the trauma sensitive yoga in the mornings and meditation in the evenings. The surfing is extremely therapeutic in itself.

Are there any studies or pending research about the benefits of surfing for people with anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions?

Yes, there are many, including our own studies. The Wave published a great report called ‘Blue health’ linking to the multiple studies and I know Finisterre did something similar. For example:

Rogers, C. M., Mallinson, T., & Peppers, D. (2014). High-intensity sports for posttraumatic stress disorder and depression: Feasibility study of Ocean Therapy with veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(4), 395-404.

Do your retreats include other mental health professionals? How are they involved?

Yes. My partner, Kristine, is a doctor and a yoga teacher, trained in trauma sensitive yoga, and my colleague, Barnaby, often helps (he is a mindfulness-based cognitive therapist group facilitator). Richard Denny is our after-care professional, and he is an accredited EMDR practitioner. As we expand, I am always on the look-out for great mental health professionals who share the same values.

How do you want people to remember their experience at a Resurface UK retreat? 

That it was an experience that left them feeling a sense of optimism about their life going forward, that recovery is possible, and that happiness is the reward for a life well lived.

What is your life quote?

 “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”. - Aristotle

Would you share your website and social media so our readers can learn more about you and Resurface UK? 



Thank you for this meaningful conversation. We wish you continued success.

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