Triple amputee Craig Wood with double amputee Chris Middleton

Deptherapy Pros' Course

Our aim is to allow those with disabilities, some of which are life changing, to qualify as PADI Open Water Divers

Deptherapy Education
Deptherapy Education

On the way to the Red Sea, a range of life changing injuries each of which requires individual adaptive techniques.


Within the scuba diving world we pride ourselves on the quality of our Professional’s Course for PADI Instructors and Dive Masters (or equivalent certifications for other agencies).

Our aim is to allow those with disabilities, some of which are life changing, to qualify as PADI Open Water Divers. The course is unambiguously developed around PADI training standards, although its content is applicable to other scuba diving agencies.


We run courses in the UK at our UK base Divecrew in Crowthorne, Berkshire and at our Egypt base Roots Red Sea, near Safaga.

Courses need to be self-funding and are not supported financially by the charity. These are therefore run when there are sufficient course members to make the course viable.

Deptherapy Education

Josh, a triple amputee, (both legs, above-knee & right arm, below-elbow), found side mounts useful


On first sight you may consider that many of those we work with on the Deptherapy programme have physical injuries that would disqualify them from qualifying as a scuba diver. In Deptherapy we do not qualify programme members unless we are satisfied that they have met all the required PADI training standards, have great buoyancy control, trim and are capable of self/buddy rescue. We do this through in some circumstances, adjusting kit configuration, but mainly by adapting how we teach a skill.

The Pros' Course runs over two days and there is a requirement to commit to a considerable amount of pre course learning.

A sample course schedule is set out below.

The Deptherapy Education Professionals’ Course sets the standard for the scuba diving industry.
Frank Buchanan [UK Scuba Trust]

We believe our programme is substantially better than any similar programme offered by other ‘disabled’ scuba diving training agencies.

Your course will be led by one or more of our highly qualified Instructor Trainers, who are also PADI Master Instructors.

Deptherapy Education

‘Out of air with a difference’ – Andy, a bilateral amputee, (both legs above-knee, one transpelvic), simulates out of air whilst working with the donor, Chris, who is an above-elbow amputee

INJURIES, ILLNESS (Physical and Mental) and MEDICATION

You will learn about a range of disabling injuries and illnesses and the implications for scuba diving. We have a wealth of experience in working with those with mental illness, especially those related to anxiety disorders. Medication is rarely discussed in connection with scuba diving but has huge implications and many are contraindicated to diving.

Importantly we spend three hours in the pool working with Deptherapy programme members who have a range of life changing injuries who have been through the Deptherapy programme. Most have lost one or more limbs.

Mark Downs a HSE Authorised Medical Examiner of Divers came on the Pros’ course and was amazed at how capable and competent those with amputations were in the pool.

Our focus is both theory and practical and amongst other things you will learn is how to assess whether a potential student should be allowed to dive or not.

We give great emphasis to medical conditions and medication as these two areas impact massively on the ability of an individual to dive.

We also look at perceptions of disability generally and we have created an exercise that puts you, the instructor/divemaster, in the world of those who have suffered life changing challenges. An extremely simple task for the able bodied provides a huge challenge which no group has ever completed. Your aim is to make you realise the challenges that life changing disabilities can bring.

In terms of practical application we will get you to ‘think out of the box’ as doing this is essential to becoming a capable adaptive teaching instructor.

Deptherapy Education

Jon, an American Marine, is a quadruple amputee. He cannot qualify as a PADI Diver. He is diving with a support team of five including two highly qualified adaptive-teaching instructors


Some prospective students unfortunately have disabilities that will prevent them from qualifying as main stream agency divers, two examples are those without sight and quadriplegics. Their disabilities mean they cannot meet the required standards however they can still enjoy scuba diving and the sense of weightlessness albeit in some cases this may be limited to the pool environment.

Deptherapy Education does have limited certifications for those with disabilities that prevent them from qualifying as main agency divers. These limited certifications mean they must be accompanied by a specified qualified diver(s), in the case of the most serious disabilities this requires a team of five.

With both adaptive teaching and limited certifications there is a need to always be open and honest with your students. There is a grave danger of creating expectations that are not realistic or sustainable.

Deptherapy Education

Chris M, a bilateral amputee, (one above-knee and one below-knee), with Chris G, a single above-elbow amputee.



Timing Activity
0830 – 0900 Registration
0900 - 0930 Introduction to Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education and ‘Bombs for Breakfast’ a video by Gary Green
0930 – 1000 Aspects of disability (an exercise)
10.00 – 11.00 Vision, Mission and Values of Deptherapy Education followed by: Personality, behaviour and social adjustment of those with mental or physical challenges
11.00 – 13.00 Review of Medical Conditions and Medication (implications for diving) and life after suffering a life changing mental or physical challenge
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch
14.00 – 1530 Adaptive teaching (theory and practical exercises)
15.30 – 1600 Accessibility and dive centre assessment
1600 - 1630 Review of Standards and what you can teach
1630 - 1700 Introduction to tactile communication and review of Day 1
Overnight      Study tactile communication + revision


Timing Activity
0845 Assemble
0900 - 1000 Adaptive teaching (2) case studies                                                   
1000 - 1030 Pool and confined water issues
1030 - 1115 Open water scenario planning
1115 - 1200 Theory and Standards Exam (open book)
1200 - 1230 Lunch and travel to pool
1300 – 1600 Pool work

NOTE: This is a sample schedule

Deptherapy Education


Costs will depend on location, they are staff intensive. £85 of the cost is the Deptherapy Education registration fee so you are registered on our database.


A prerequisite for accreditation is that you have attended a Deptherapy Education Pros’ Course or the equivalent.


  • Two day course
  • Instructor Manual
  • Various annexes such as student assessment
  • Registration as a DE Instructor or Divemaster

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