Helping people overcome their aquatics anxieties, fears and phobias for over 30 years.
"Life is a series of challenges, the ones that you finally overcome, even by the smallest margin, after you have tried and failed many times, often give you the greatest courage to confront additional challenges" Jeff Krieger, M.S.
The SOAP (Strategies for Overcoming Aquatic Phobias) Program is a unique approach to an age-old problem, fear of being in or around water. Many individuals of all ages, genders, ethnicities, educational backgrounds and life experiences suffer from anxieties in varying degrees associated with water. Although, in many cases, fear is a most valuable and necessary resource in order for people to continue to survive and learn effective and safe behaviors, phobics react abnormally to normal experiences and, as a result, their fear becomes an obstacle in their life. Similar to anyone who suffers from a fear of heights that would prevent them from climbing atop a two-foot step stool on level ground, an aqua
"After a traumatic experience in the water when I was four ears old I developed a serious fear of the water. I did not believe that anybody would ever be able to help me. After participating in Jeff's SOAP Program, I have not only overcome my fear of water, but I now swim recreationally three days a week with another former SOAP graduate."
Traditional learn to swim programs do not offer any relief from this overwhelming fear and actually, quite often, add to the problem. Aqua phobics cannot learn to swim until they successfully understand their situation and have developed effective and accessible strategies and resources that will eventually enable them to cope effectively, deal with and overcome their fear.
The SOAP Program combines aqua phobic-specific water adjustment techniques with group and individual counseling dynamics and skills, technical information and traditional learn to swim activities, all allowing participants to ease into an aquatic environment and to be able to enjoy the many emotional and physical benefits of aquatic activities.
Sessions are completely confidential and families andothers who provide these individuals with personal support are encouraged to participate. The importance of the group format can not be over emphasized, but private lessons are effective and available. An aqua phobic's experience is so powerful and highly unique that group members find great comfort and inspiration from sharing their feelings with others who can relate and empathize with them. The bonds that quickly develop between the instructor and the group members are critical to the success of the individuals.
Why is this program so important for drowning prevention?
• Every competent swimmer is one less risk for drowing.
• Every competent swimmer is one more potential life saver.
Helping these individuals deal with these issues is extremely complex and requires a great deal of insight, compassion, knowledge, patience, instinct, experience, creativity, ability and foresight. There are different reasons why people suffer from aqua phobia, but fortunately, regardless of what led an individual down that path, the strategy required to help them overcome their fear is very similar and available. Unfortunately, historically, neither mental health practitioners nor aquatic professionals have adequately addressed this problem or have offered effective tools directed at assisting the aqua phobic's efforts to remove this powerful obstacle that prevents them from feeling and behaving comfortably when confronted with water.
Traditional counseling/therapeutic efforts, designed to treat a wide variety of phobic behaviors, largely ignore the ever increasing numbers of a widely diverse group of aqua phobics. Generic strategies exist that utilize behavior modification, self actualization and relaxation techniques. Yet, none of those traditional techniques actually get the therapist in the water with their clients in order to physically and emotionally share that overwhelming experience with them. In the aquatic environment, the aqua phobic perceives, feels, reacts, and processes in a completely different manner than non-aqua phobics. Aqua phobics lose the ability, and more importantly, the will to truly comprehend the reality of the situation that surrounds them and their role in that process. They quickly and unavoidably lose their ability to judge, to reason and to react appropriately. Furthermore, they lose significant command over their emotional state and many of their motor skills.