Water Therapy

“Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars

mirrored in your own being.” – Rumi



Immerse yourself in the healing power of water through Water Therapy.

What is Water Therapy?

Water therapy is the intentional use of water-based activities to achieve therapeutic goals. When you come to the water mindfully, with the intention to heal and be free, the water becomes a powerful catalyst for growth, healing, joy, inner peace and connection.

My method of individual water therapy integrates paddle boarding*, talk therapy, earth based spiritual practice and mindfulness, tailored towards each client’s unique goals. I aim to do this work with people of color, survivors of violence and/or abuse, and queer and trans people, specifically, because of my personal connection to people with these experiences/identities. If you have ever felt called to the water for healing or joy this method of therapy may be the powerful healing medium you need.

*You DO NOT need to know how to stand up paddleboard. I will teach you how during our first session. You DO NOT need to own a stand up paddleboard. I will provide one. You DO need to have basic swimming skills. If standing is not appropriate for you, you may paddle board seated or bring your own type of individual watercraft (like a kayak) to use in session.

How can Water Therapy help me?

“I wondered whether water is a mirror for our darker emotions as much as it is an engine for our happiness. Water quiets all the noise, all the distractions, and connects you to your own thoughts.” – Wallace J. Nichols

My water-based therapy approach aims to:

  • Help relieve anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress, as well as other mental health issues related to chronic stress.
  • Help you grieve, overcome fear, befriend your body, get unstuck, experience joy and freedom, enhance creativity, feel connected to something larger than yourself, create a deep sense of tranquility and experience a greater sense of possibility.

Extensive research is now being done on the cognitive, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual benefits of being around water. Being in, near, on or under the water is proven to help people feel happier, healthier and more connected – mentally, physically and spiritually.[1] While our ancestors have always known that water heals, modern science is now also proving this through research, while therapists are using water activities as therapy.

Why stand up paddle boarding?

The first time I stepped on a paddleboard I felt something ancient move through my feet, up my legs and settle in my heart. I knew deeply somewhere in my DNA that I had done this before. Perhaps my ancestors fished or traveled like this. Perhaps they paddled for fun. While I have no informational evidence of their practices, I felt deeply connected to the practice and the way it connected me to my history, my self and the water. Because it is easy, fun and also allows for close contact with the water without actually being in the water, I felt it was the ideal medium to engage in water based therapy that integrates talk therapy. When you stand up paddle board you are connected to your body, mind, breath and the natural environment around you, which can help spur creative, deeper ways of thinking and feeling. In addition, the uplifting mood shift caused by the physical activity of stand up paddle boarding can lead to a greater sense of possibility!

Returning to the water for healing:

Humans have become more and more alienated from our ancestors and our connection to the earth, including water. I believe that this alienation is a major source of human suffering. As we further disconnect from the earth we further disconnect from our history, our ancestors and the blessings of the earth’s lands and bodies of water. For hundreds of thousands of years our ancestors were in deep relationship with the earth, both giving and receiving in this relationship, for health, prosperity and healing. As we took care of the natural environment, the natural environment took care of us. Retuning to the water for healing helps us reconnect to the healing power inherent in connecting to our natural world, which I hope, in turn, helps us better care for Madre Tierra (mother earth).

Can I use my health insurance for therapy sessions?

Yes! I am a licensed therapist and accept BCBS and Tufts Health insurance. I can also fill out any paperwork for you to be reimbursed if you have out of network health insurance benefits. Call your insurance if you are not sure if you have out of network benefits. Helpful questions to ask can be found here.

If you do not have BCBS, Tufts or out of network benefits, contact me for out of pocket rates.

Requirements to participate:

  • In order to participate in water therapy it is best if you have some basic swimming skills. There is no swimming in this therapy, but it is possible to fall in the water if you lose your balance balance. If you are not a strong swimmer, you will need to wear a life jacket (that will be provided) during sessions. If you cannot swim, you should have some experience/comfort with being on the water in a small boat like a kayak or some experience paddle boarding.

What is NOT required:

  • You do not need to know how to stand up paddleboard. Lessons will be provided during therapy.
  • You do not need to own a stand up paddleboard. One will be provided for you.
  • You do not need to be “fit” or “in shape” to participate. All bodies and experience levels welcome!
  • You do not even have to stand! If standing is not appropriate for you, I will provide a seat for the paddle board so you can paddle sitting down or you can bring your own small water craft like a kayak.

When: New sessions begin June 2021 in the Pioneer Valley area of Massachusetts.

Where: TBD

How do I sign up? Contact CarmenLeah at [email protected] to apply. Please let me know a little about yourself and why you are interested in this type of therapy. I am happy to schedule a brief call with you to answer any questions you may have, though I am able to reply faster to email inquiries. In order to apply you must be able to commit to at least 8 of the 10 summer sessions to apply.

About CarmenLeah:

CarmenLeah is a Boston-born Puerto Rican queer ocean devotee and water sports enthusiast. Professionally, she is trained as a clinical social worker, public health professional, trauma-informed yoga teacher, Theatre of the Oppressed Facilitator and life coach. In addition, she was certified as an American Red Cross Life Guard in 2018 and completed an herbalism apprenticeship that centers the teachings of BIPOC with Seed, Root & Bloom. For more information about CarmenLeah visit: https://freedomlaborlove.com/about/

[1] Nichols, W.J. (2014). Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on or under the water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do. Boston: Back Bay Books.

Artwork by Nansi Guevara @nansiguevara