Sailing as a Form of Healing for Trauma Survivors
Sailing as a Form of Healing for Trauma Survivors

Discover the therapeutic benefits of sailing for trauma survivors, from building resilience to finding solace in the open sea.

Sailing as a Form of Healing for Trauma Survivors

Sailing has long been known for its therapeutic qualities, offering a sense of freedom, adventure, and connection with nature. For trauma survivors, sailing can provide a unique form of healing, allowing them to confront their past, build resilience, and find solace in the open sea. In this article, we will explore the benefits of sailing as a form of therapy for trauma survivors, sharing personal stories and insights from those who have found healing through this unconventional path.

The Therapeutic Qualities of Sailing

Sailing offers a unique combination of physical, mental, and emotional challenges that can be particularly beneficial for trauma survivors. Some of the therapeutic qualities of sailing include:

Connection with Nature

Being out on the open water, surrounded by the vastness of the ocean, can provide a powerful sense of perspective and connection with the natural world. This connection can help trauma survivors feel grounded and present, allowing them to escape the confines of their past experiences and find solace in the beauty and tranquility of the sea.

Physical Activity

Sailing is a physically demanding activity that requires strength, balance, and endurance. Engaging in regular physical activity has been shown to improve mental health and well-being, and for trauma survivors, the physical challenges of sailing can provide a healthy outlet for pent-up emotions and stress.

Mindfulness and Focus

Sailing requires a high level of focus and concentration, as sailors must constantly be aware of their surroundings, the wind, and the movement of their boat. This level of mindfulness can help trauma survivors develop a greater sense of control and mastery over their environment, which can be particularly empowering for those who have experienced a loss of control in their past.

Teamwork and Communication

Sailing often involves working closely with others, requiring clear communication and collaboration to navigate the boat safely and efficiently. For trauma survivors, developing strong relationships and trust with others can be an essential part of the healing process, and sailing can provide a unique opportunity to build these connections in a supportive and challenging environment.

Personal Stories of Healing Through Sailing

Many trauma survivors have found solace and healing through sailing, embracing the challenges and rewards of this unconventional path. Here, we share a few of their stories:

Sarah’s Journey

Sarah, a survivor of childhood abuse, discovered sailing as a form of therapy after years of struggling with depression and anxiety. She found that being out on the water allowed her to confront her past and find a sense of peace and freedom that had eluded her for years.

“Sailing has given me a sense of control and mastery over my life that I never thought possible. When I’m out on the water, I feel like I can leave my past behind and focus on the present moment. It’s been a transformative experience for me, and I’m grateful for the healing it has brought to my life.”

Mark’s Transformation

Mark, a veteran who experienced trauma during his time in the military, turned to sailing as a way to cope with his PTSD. He found that the physical challenges of sailing, combined with the camaraderie of working with fellow sailors, helped him to rebuild his sense of self and find a new purpose in life.

“Sailing has been a lifeline for me. It’s given me a sense of purpose and belonging that I didn’t have before. I’ve been able to connect with other veterans who share similar experiences, and together, we’ve found healing and support through our shared love of sailing.”

Emily’s Escape

Emily, a survivor of domestic violence, found solace in sailing after escaping her abusive relationship. She discovered that the freedom and adventure of sailing provided a much-needed escape from her past, allowing her to rebuild her confidence and find a new sense of self.

“Sailing has been my escape, my sanctuary. It’s given me the space and freedom to heal and grow, and I’ve found a community of supportive and empowering individuals who have helped me to rebuild my life. I’m forever grateful for the healing that sailing has brought to my life.”

Sailing Programs for Trauma Survivors

Recognizing the therapeutic benefits of sailing, several organizations have developed sailing programs specifically designed to support trauma survivors in their healing journey. These programs often combine sailing instruction with therapeutic support, providing a holistic approach to healing and personal growth.

Some of these programs include:

  • Sailing Heals: A non-profit organization that offers sailing experiences for individuals and families affected by trauma, illness, or loss.
  • Warrior Sailing: A program that provides sailing education and opportunities for wounded, ill, and injured military service members and veterans.
  • Sail to Prevail: A non-profit organization that offers therapeutic sailing programs for individuals with disabilities, including trauma survivors.


Sailing offers a unique and powerful form of therapy for trauma survivors, providing an opportunity to confront their past, build resilience, and find healing in the open sea. Through personal stories and the development of specialized sailing programs, it’s clear that sailing can be a transformative and life-changing experience for those who have experienced trauma. As more people embrace this unconventional path to healing, we hope to see a growing community of support and understanding for trauma survivors and their families.