What is Walking and Talking therapy?
Simply put, we walk and talk without the constraints of being inside. Some clients are more comfortable walking and talking and find it easier to start discussing their problems when strolling along a country path. We will meet at a pre-determined outside appropriate space, arranged prior to the session. The session then takes place walking side by side. Outside sessions may be weather dependent and take place during daylight hours.
It can be more dynamic than a traditional therapy session and can be useful if you have felt “stuck” in your therapy in the past or the present. The active movement can help with releasing tension and aid development of new thoughts and ideas. It makes an accurate metaphor for moving forwards in our work.
Some people find that walking side by side can be less intimidating than sitting opposite a counsellor. There is also less direct eye contact that would normally come with traditional counselling. These small changes can help release inhibition especially if you’re apprehensive about too much direct eye contact.
It can be a refreshing change for people who spend all day in their home or place of work. Often the idea of spending another hour sat inside can be off-putting, the opportunity to combine therapy with a walk, gentle exercise, fresh air and the natural world can be beneficial and appealing.
You set the pace of both the walking and the talking. If you want to meander along and have a relaxing walk that is fine, but equally, we can set a quicker pace if that’s what you feel comfortable with. The footpaths are easy to walk and start from convenient free public car parks. So, in other words, you do not have to be super fit!
Walking and Talking therapy can be a good way to explore difficulties.
Many of us instinctively feel more relaxed and at peace walking side by side in a beautiful outside location than we might do sitting face to face in a therapy room.
Mental health charity Mind carried out extensive research a few years ago, which showed that walking in the countryside could help reduce depression and anxiety. In their survey, they reported that 71% of respondents felt decreased depression and less tense after a “green” walk. Meanwhile 90% felt their self-esteem increase after a country walk.
Other mental health organisations and the NHS also recognise the benefits of the activity on good psychological health and mental well-being. In fact, any kind of exercise can help to reduce levels of stress, depression and anxiety. The benefits of being outdoors have been echoed by the Government over the last few months.
How does it work in practice?
The first session usually takes place over the telephone or video so that we can cover various logistical practicalities. Out-with these times of social distancing, the first session would usually have taken place in my therapy room. This session is for me to discuss with you the contract, the contingency plan if the weather is bad for your sessions, a suitable place for us to meet and walk and also your confidentiality.
Confidentiality is as important with Walking and Talking therapy as it would be with any other Counselling service I offer. However, when working outside there is the potential for seeing people you might know, or that may know the therapist. In the first session we will discuss how you want to deal with this if it arises. There is also the issue that if other people are close by they may be able to hear parts of the conversation. This will all be discussed during your first session.
Whilst Walking and Talking therapy is not a suitable option for everyone it can be particularly useful for people who feel trapped in a role or subject. Being outdoors can make people feel “freer” and activity will increase the blood flow to the brain. This releases endorphins which can be helpful when exploring difficult topics or tackling issues.
If you would like to discuss this option further or have any questions please feel free to contact me on 07375 293 075 or via the contact form on my home page and I will happily try to answer any questions.
Why not give it a try?