Walking and Talking Therapy
The image of therapy usually involves two chairs in a room, but therapy doesn’t need to be confirmed to this. Walking and talking therapy is a growing therapy.
We all know that there are many benefits to being outdoors in nature, from increased wellbeing, lowered anxiety, depression and stress levels, to reduced anger and increased confidence and boosted self-esteem. It has also been shown to be effective for loss and bereavement, and when going through crisis or transitions.
Sitting opposite a therapist can sometimes feel confrontational, but walking side by side allows the therapist and client to feel equal and less formal, allowing you to open up more.
Now there is an added benefit – when combined with therapy, it can help you become reflective, taking note of your body language, which can give clues to your feelings. The soothing nature of being outside, along with the distraction – walking rather than sitting still – can help you make better connections and more open conversations.
Generally a ‘walk and talk’ therapy session would be a loop, starting and finishing at the same time, and would take place at the same time and place each week. This can also offer you a sense of start and finish.
Intejecting these sessions with regular sessions can help you become ‘unstuck’ when focusing on a particular problem or confronting difficult emotions.
Outdoor therapy is also growing post-Covid, ensuring therapists and clients can maintain distancing in a safe environment.
Walk and talk therapy is part of a growing ‘umbrella’ called eco-psychology – a combination of ecology and psychotherapy or psychology – this includes not just walk and talk therapy, but also animal-assisted psychotherapy, equine therapy, natural art therapy and horticultural therapy.
Nature is often used in therapy as metaphors – a splitting path, the spreading roots of a tree, etc. Being out in nature allows you to make these connections naturally.
When looking for a therapist, it can be difficult as there isn’t just one term used – walk and talk therapy, outdoor therapy, eco therapy, green therapy, nature therapy, etc.
When you find a therapist that works outdoors, inquire about how and where they do therapy, and make sure you feel comfortable with it – not all therapists offer a free trial, so it might be good to check first. And its important to ensure your therapist is registered with a registered professional body, such as the BACP or UKCP.
Whether you are in the city, the countryside or at the coast, being able to bring the outside within, to help you heal, is a wonderful gift – walking outside can help us heal the inside.