About ISTO


Founders of ISTO

ISTO was Founded in October 2017 when representatives from eight leading global surf therapy programs joined together in South Africa to bring collaboration to the sector. With an emphasis on “sharing wildly”, these programs helped spearhead a movement to grow and develop surf therapy worldwide through shared research and data with a focus on combined impact. The International Surf Therapy Organization was born.

In one year ISTO’s Contributors have grown to over 30-organizations GLOBALLY and represent numerous and varied surf therapy programs, applying a structured approach to surfing to achieve a therapeutic benefit.

Learn more about ISTO’s mision and vision.


ISTO’s contributing programs are instrumental in “raising the bar” for surf therapy and establish through evidence-base that Surfing alleviates symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression and has profound benefits for humans (children, youth, teenagers, adults) dealing with mental or physical challenges:

  • Autism
  • Learning disabilities
  • Down Syndrome
  • Blindness
  • Amputees
  • Paraplegic, quadriplegic
  • At-risk youth from foster care
  • Inner-city youth and young adults
  • Veterans, Active-Duty military
  • Adults rehabilitating from prison,
  • Homeless,
  • Recovering addicts
  • and … all those in need by using the ocean, surfing and the outdoors to make positive and lasting life changes.


Since its inception, ISTO has set a high standard of excellence in Surf Therapy by sharing information and research tools with ISTO Contributors all over the globe, to expand and advance evidence.  Contributors can access the Shared ISTO Contributor Kit and also get invited to present their work at the annual ISTO conference. Find out more about our standards for contributing to ISTO.