Walk and Talk Therapy
“Ever considered therapy outside instead of sitting inside a
Walk and Talk Therapy is exactly what it says. Instead of sitting in front of your counsellor in a traditional therapy room, the counselling session takes place outdoors, the dynamic is fairly different. You and I are on the same footing, literally walking side by side which can be much less intimidating and helps release inhibition. It can be taken as an introduction to counselling, followed up by a more formal type of therapy.
Some clients find being outdoors is a more relaxing environment than the counselling office while sharing your struggles and life situations. Usually, the first session takes place at my practice where we agree on what we will do if the weather is bad, discuss issues of confidentiality and how we will negotiate encountering other people when out. I am not deterred by a few drops of rain, but it is your call, with the option of conducting the session indoors.
Walking side by side is counselling in motion, and although it is ‘not a fitness session’, it is often more dynamic than a traditional indoor session. If you have been ‘stuck in therapy in the past’, being physically active helps release some tensions and stimulates new thoughts and ideas. It is a metaphor for moving forward. Walking therapy is also particularly helpful for those who feel they are trapped in a life or roles that don’t fit them anymore. Being outdoors and talking about their issues enhances the renewal of a sense of freedom. Walking helps increase the blood flow to the brain, new ideas to tackle issues are more likely to come up. The therapy may introduce walking into your life or fit in with your own existing routine of being active. For some people, walking outside might itself confront issues they would like to address such as a fear of open spaces or a fear of feeling judged for their appearance. Having a therapist on your side might ease a return to re-engaging in social situations.
Some clients may become anxious when confronting something difficult in a traditional seated, face-to-face interaction. Walking in parallel with visual distractions may allow for easier engagement. Observation shows that clients at all levels of fitness can benefit from fresh air and exercise when it comes to processing their feelings. This can also help clients who have experienced having a hard time opening up in a formal setting, finding they were much more relaxed and the sessions were much more productive.
There are several reasons why Walk and Talk Therapy is a
1. Walk Talk Therapy helps clients move—both literally and figuratively.
2. Walk Talk Therapy is conducted outdoors, being in nature can be grounding, you will be breathing and being in nature, which can be meditative.
3. Walk Talk Therapy offers another choice to clients who are going through a life transition, have anxiety, and are experiencing some kind of loss or grief, as well as other life challenges. You’ll be connected to the outside world in a gentle way which may be helpful in grounding you.
4. You set the pace of the session. If you prefer a meditative, relaxing session, time to pause, observe and reflect, or walking at a more active pace.
5. Research has shown that physical activity can enhance the mental and physical health of clients. Physical activity has also been shown to reduce levels of depression and anxiety and can help to prevent depressive symptoms.
6. You’ll probably be energised physically and mentally by the end of the session and that may carry on into the rest of the day, the week and your life