Aside from biological conditions such as bipolar disorder or thyroid issues, most depression comes from a sense of helplessness and lack of control in one’s own life. This loss of agency and inability ‘to do life’ and the feelings of severe despondency and dejection that follow have a tremendously negative impact on people’s well-being. 

The isolation, loss of hope, struggle to connect with positive emotions and other people is often crippling and can become very hard to recover from. Depression often comes from thoughts and beliefs rooted in a lack of agency, leading to poor self-esteem and a distrust that life can get better. A week-long Resurface retreat or EMDR intensive gives clients the opportunity to tackle their depressive episodes through the participation in various evidence-based psychological interventions and activities. 

These include trauma sensitive and regular yoga classes, psycho-educational workshops, surf-lessons, experiential group-therapy, meditation/mindfulness sessions and the social interactions of being with an open group of peers. The therapeutic activities are facilitated by psychologist/therapist Josh Dickson and Dr. Kristine Steffenak with the surf activities led by Youness Arhbi. 

Completing a Resurface retreat will give participants essential tools to manage their depression as well bringing more optimism and confidence into all areas of their lives. Our research gathered from Resurface retreats shows significant reductions in depression having attended either the ‘Trauma Resolution Resolution’ or the ‘Resilience and Flow’ programmes. 

Depression was measured using the PHQ-9, a standardised measure commonly used in clinical practise alongside the GAD-7. Here, a significant reduction was also found in mean depression score (p=.001). The average score before the retreat was 14.56 (SD= 5.4), and this dropped to 7.44 (SD= 5.7) following the retreat (see Figure 2). 

According to the PHQ-9 guidelines , this depression score lowered from the high end of the moderately severe depression category to the lower end of moderate depression category. Figure 2: Bar chart indicating significant reduction in score on the PHQ-9 from baseline (M= 14.56, SD= 5.4) to post-retreat (M= 7.44, SD= 5.4), p= .001.

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