Man participating in aquatic-based PTSD therapy in San Diego, CA
We understand mental illness and the difficulties it creates for those who suffer from it. At our San Diego Mental Health Treatment Center we are sensitive to your challenges. Solara will find every possible solution to enable you to live the life that you are meant to live.


Aquatic-Based PTSD Therapy

Post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, can be a debilitating mental health disorder. An innovative holistic treatment for PTSD has emerged called aquatic-based PTSD Therapy. Aquatic-based PTSD therapy can help reduce PTSD symptoms and can even help with anxiety and depression.

Solara Mental Health in San Diego, California, offers aquatic-based PTSD therapy for veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD water therapy has grown in popularity in recent years, thanks to increasing evidence of its positive effects for military veterans and other individuals struggling with PTSD. Aquatic-based PTSD therapy is utilized in addition to evidence-based therapies to help reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

We have partnered with Healing Wave Aquatic, a premier provider of aquatic bodywork therapies for military veterans, active duty personnel, and caregivers living with the debilitating impacts of post-traumatic stress.  This partnership helps our patients reduce their stress levels, get better sleep, improve their ability to think clearly, and minimized physical pain by participating in aquatic therapy.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, short PTSD, is a medical condition caused by experiencing or witnessing a specific event. The event is typically so terrifying that it ‘sears’ itself into the victim’s memory, inducing symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, and general anxiety that can affect how they live their lives.

PTSD is common among military veterans, with up to 20% of veterans with an active service record experiencing at least some of its symptoms. But its causes range far beyond military service, including anything from vehicle accidents to work events, health problems like a traumatic emergency room visit, physical or sexual assault, childhood abuse, and more.

The key to healing is effective PTSD treatment. With the proper medical steps, the condition can fade away as victims begin to learn how to adjust and cope with the event in question. Untreated, victims can spiral into deeper symptoms and depression, even leading to suicide in some cases.

What is Aquatic-Based PTSD Therapy?

Explicitly used to treat trauma, aquatic therapy typically includes 1:1 sessions between a professional and a patient. The water temperature approximates that of the human body, inducing feelings of comfort and immersion. The professional guides the patient through gentle stretches and movements that relax the body and release the stressors a condition like PTSD can bring.

Typically, the goal is for the patient not to exhaust themselves while staying in the water. Floats assist the legs, the air in the lungs causes the body to float, and the professional will hold the head.

Post-traumatic stress disorder water therapy specifically includes a few sequences of exercises:

  • Grounding opens the session as a way for the patient to slowly immerse themselves into the pool and begin to loosen their body.
  • Stillness allows the patient to calm down to an almost meditative state, fully trusting the therapist with any movements and allowing the patient to build a connection with their breath and body.
  • Stretching is a process many of our patients compare to yoga: slow, intentional body movements that test the body’s range of motion in a calm and supportive environment.
  • Swishing means moving the body back and forth and from side to side, causing the body to relax naturally as movements are guided by the water as long as the pace is intentionally slow.
  • Outward expansion involves feeling the body’s limits in a gentle stretch to each side, symbolizing the extension of the mind to the outside world.
  • Inward folding counterposes the expansion, with exercises creating a safe space within the patient to retreat while the water supports their body.

Together, these movements–always guided by a trained and certified therapist–allow the patient to reconnect their body and mind, fighting some of the more destructive effects of a condition like PTSD.

Benefits of Aquatic-Based PTSD Therapy

In a recent review in the Journal for Occupational Therapy and Mental Health, researchers outlined a few core benefits of PTSD water therapy:

  • Improving sleep quality and increasing recovery periods in which the body is without stress.
  • Improving cognitive function in both men and women, allowing rational thought to take over when dangerous flashbacks or harmful thoughts can threaten the patient’s well-being.
  • Improving the patient’s emotional well-being through low-stress physical activity that allows for true relaxation.
  • Yoga and swimming, and the combination of both, can reduce anxiety.

The authors concluded that while more research is necessary, aquatic-based therapy shows significant potential in decreasing PTSD symptoms that range from depression to sleep disturbances and even suicide attempts.

How Aquatic Therapy Helps Veterans

General aquatic therapy benefits, of course, also and especially apply to military veterans. The need to be in a safe space can be even more significant for veterans who may have experienced environments in which no space around them seemed to be safe. A feeling of calm can be immensely beneficial after an active duty period or deployment in which chaos could reign at any second.

These benefits extend to the fact that even the sound of splashing water causes the brain to release dopamine, creating a calmer and happier mindset that carries far beyond the time spent in the water. Lowering anxiety and depression leads to increased calm periods, better sleep, and ultimately the mental strength to live with and move beyond PTSD.

Finally, one study examined how aquatic therapy can help military veterans. The study found that after an eight-week program, PTSD symptoms for veterans decreased by nearly 30% for participating veterans.

Aquatic-Based PTSD Therapy for Veterans in San Diego

Suffering from PTSD can be debilitating. Having the right professionals as partners in the recovery, on the other hand, can go a long way on the road to recovery and re-entry into the joys of everyday life.

Especially for veterans, it can be challenging to get over the stigma of mental health treatments. And yet, those treatments can be essential to reintegration into civilian life. Aquatic-based therapy, especially when combined with other and more traditional methods of treatment, is a great way to gently introduce means of therapy designed to treat the symptoms of disorders like PTSD non-intrusively.

At Solara Mental Health, we pride ourselves in the mental health treatments we offer to veterans who are struggling with disorders like PTSD. Our professionals provide holistic and evidence-based therapies like aquatic therapy but will create a unique treatment plan for each patient.

What Our Clients Say

Michelle Family

I want to thank you and the entire staff and support system at Solara for taking such good care of my sister. On behalf of my entire family, we want you all to understand that your patience and kindness stretches further than you can see… Thank you, again and again, from the bottom of my heart.


Solara was truly a life-changing experience for me and for our children, because of what you did for my wife! The treatment team was phenomenally supportive and perfect for helping her with her anxiety and depression. We are all now moving forward to put our lives back together and it started with you all in Pacific Beach. Thank you for what you do.


I have never felt better than I do now, since completing your program. The truly caring and supportive staff and the intensive program changed my life. What a neat place to stay for treatment - I love Pacific Beach! I have learned skills and behavior to move forward with my life thanks to you.


The program has given me the tools I needed to really gain stability. For the first time in years - maybe for as long as I can remember, actually, I’m learning how to cope and manage my stressors and triggers. I now believe that I can find some relief and happiness.

M.P. – Father

Your program provided our daughter with the most masterful therapist we have ever encountered (and we have used many).  She has had an unbelievable ability to see the long-term trajectory of our daughter’s treatment and to approach her treatment in stages that fit where my daughter’s development was.  We can’t say enough positive about her.

R.M. – Father

If not for Solara Mental Health, I am almost positive that our daughter would not be as advanced in her treatment, and would not have the almost miraculous confident and positive outlook that she has.


Even though I’m not religious, I realized when I got sober that for the first time in my life I wanted to explore my spiritual side. I benefited hugely from the individual spiritual sessions that I had with Chris. I’m really grateful for that aspect of the whole treatment experience.


The therapists and counselors and really whole team were extremely beneficial to me and my understanding of my issues. The treatment plan they developed was exactly what I needed


The Solara Treatment Program was a life-changing experience for me. To be able to heal in such a beautiful, peaceful environment, with such a terrific treatment team, was so amazingly positive. I have found my true self, again. I thank you and my family thanks you for helping me become the person I was meant to be.

Watson Family

Solara’s program was such a positive experience for our mom (and for us)! She had become almost impossible to deal with. Your entire staff was phenomenally supportive and kind and patient with her. We feel like we’ve got our mom back, now.


The Solara program is truly amazing. I’ve never had more clarity or more good energy in my entire life. The attention the physicians and the therapists gave me was outstanding. I feel like they truly understood and addressed my issues, which had consumed my life for years. Thank you all.


We are so grateful to you for the treatment and care you provided our daughter. She is doing unbelievably well now thanks to your program. We will gladly tell anyone we encounter that needs treatment about the wonderful work you do at Solara.