Natalie Small is a LMFT and the founder and CEO of a unique surf therapy program called Groundswell Community Project.

Groundswell Community Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that offers surf therapy for self-identifying women overcoming various forms of trauma and it’s effects. With their home roots in San Diego, California and branches that extend across the globe, they are a transformational community of surfsisters who provide intersectional, brave, and safe spaces for all self-identifying women to find their unique healing, community, and power in the waves of Mother Ocean.

Groundswell’s surf therapy curriculum is grounded in positive psychology, somatic and arts-based therapy modalities and mindfulness practices. They are proud members of International Surf Therapy Org, supporting the advancement of surf therapy research and best practices. Their Surf Therapy sessions are unique in that they are facilitated and supervised by licensed trauma-informed therapists and surf coaches that hold intentional, safe and brave space to invite your body, mind, and heart to join you in the healing process and adventure of surfing. Their hope is that every surfsister who opts into the programs creates their own sustainable surf practice held and supported by a community of surfsisters. We recorded this episode at the end of May which is mental health awareness month. Natalie is currently in Peru due to the Covid virus quarantine and closed borders and was generous enough to drop in to a conversation with GMN to address new and old traumas we are experiencing during this global pandemic.

Natalie also connected me to Leanne Tibiatowski so that she could join the conversation as well. Leanne attended the groundswell community project to help process and heal from complicated trauma. She found it to be so healing that she bravely decided to share her story to validate and provide light and hope to others. Leanne is proof of the strong ripple effect of this program and has developed support and advocacy groups of her own that also reach women all over the world.

Leanne is a local San Diegan committed to creating healthy community experiences that ignite authentic communication, self-discovery, friendship, and professional connections. She is a facilitator, speaker, and writer. Leanne is known for her ability to create safe spaces for small and large groups where truth, transformation, and connection happen. Her knowledge base includes emotional literacy, communication, leadership, mindfulness, grief, trauma, bereavement, surf therapy, PTSD, community, conflict resolution, and personal development. she is The Founder of Together We Rise: and In 2 Clarity:


Leanne’s passion project… our solution to the pain and suffering we see in the world around us.

We create safe spaces where women feel free to be themselves.

We recorded this in May to highlight Mental Health Awareness Month. It is apparent now, more than ever that every month and every day should be about mental health awareness. Since recording this episode, the world’s waves have kept shifting and traumatic events have compiled as we have been slowly phasing out of quarantine. This pandemic has us perfectly positioned to sit with and process images, first person stories and social viruses. The tipping point for a perfect storm. The waves may be new but the undercurrent is always there. Again… new trauma, old trauma, intergenerational trauma and cumulative trauma. Thank you Rachel Mauricio from Groundswell Community Project for recording our intro and your poignant and powerful perspective as a black woman and a surfer!!!!!

Sister Circles. Educational Workshops. Retreats. Community + Team Building Events. Support Groups. 

Research-based surf therapy that builds safe & Brave community for those on their healing journey.

You can find a variety, integrative and comprehensive list of mental health resources: