Both ‘Walk and Talk‘ and ‘Sit and Talk’ Outdoor therapies were services I offered before the COVID Pandemic as an option – since Spring 2020 when Coronavirus became an issue these methods have become more commonplaceAlong with online therapy among other therapists and we all have had to adapt to the ‘new normal’.
I have over 8 years experience in working outdoors – Cromer is the most suited of the locations I work in – I have tried to adapt this so I offer to cover a range of locations from grassy park locations, working on Cromer Beach In Heathland to semi Suburbian cliff top locations In good weather. In colder windier options the veranda of the Counselling Room Or Beachside Pavilions Make useful retries but come prepared for the wether conditions that the day brings.
We can adapt these locations based on busyness Weather and your preference.
Advantages of Outdoor therapy
Walk and talk therapy is ideal for Depression and Anxiety – it is also well suited if you find social interaction with strangers and opening up about feelings challenging..
It’s suitable for people of all fitness levels – all you need to do is dress appropriately for the weather.
Walk and talk therapy is a simple adaption of traditional counselling, taken outdoors. Instead of being conducted in four clinical walls. The therapeutic process is taken out of the counselling room and in to nature with the counsellor. Pre COVID I offered this therapy either integrated into my ‘normal’ sessions (always only with the clients consent). Alternatively after an initial consultation in a traditional office environment, I sometimes offered this form of going talk therapy as the sole method of counselling.
But what is the basis to make this radical change? With traditional counselling in the office environment. Well, clients may become anxious when talking about deep-seated issues, combining the exploration of these issues with exercise, allows for some of that nervous energy to be regulated and dissipated. This can allow the counselling process to work at a faster pace whilst the walking speed is still maintained at a comfortable rate.
Walk & Therapy, in combining traditional talking therapy with exercise has the additional benefit of boosting serotonin levels. Exercise has been proven has been proven to lighten the mood, lifting those from a depressed hypo-aroused state into a ‘better place’ and Those who are stressed and anxious out of a state of cortisol driven hyper-arousal into a calmer state of mind, both mindsets are now in a place where clearer thinking and action can be made. Walk & Therapy takes you out into nature and green open spaces.
Nature deprivation has recently been cited as a major contributor to anxiety, depression and more recent mental-health disorders such as ADHD by renounced author Richard Lomax. In addition Educational programs such as ‘Forest Schools’ both in the UK and internationally, foster this concept. We must remember that as a species we have only relatively recently domesticated ourselves and removed ourselves from our natural surroundings it is believed by some that this detachment from our natural environment brings with it a emotional and neurological burden.
Clients Common Concerns
1. What if we meet someone I know whilst in a counselling session? This rarely proves a problem, in the unlikely event, we simply carry on and don’t slow down, Most people will realise we are engrossed in deep conversation and carry on.
2. What do we do when the weather is bad. For many clients wrapping up, carrying an umbrella or raincoat is their solution to the challenge . Walk and talk therapy can be performed in the most weathers. However the unlikely event of exceptional weather, sessions conducted at Cromer can be held in doors.
3. What if I’m not used to exercise. Most people of mild fitness levels should not be concerned, however with all exercise regimes – if in doubt contact your doctor, however we walk not at a fast pace but at a slow comfortable stroll. The sessions are designed to last 50 minutes, so if you are able to stroll for 50 minutes in the park, these sessions should offer no more physical exercise than that. In addition If rest breaks are preferred by the client, Through prior planning outdoor Counselling can be incorporated into the sessions.
Both the body and mind are inextricably linked, to move forward physically can also metaphorically help one mentally. To combine these two processors can help further the progress. This is particularly the case, when the client is ‘stuck’ or feeling little control in their personal situation. In these situations this form of counselling can bring an added sense of freedom over conventional counselling. The primary benefit from walk and talk therapy is the talking therapy, however in combining the counselling with exercise it further boosts serotonin levels, these are linked to reducing anxiety and depression, this provides a unique holistic dimension to the treatment. This form of therapy is particularly beneficial for mild to medium depression, anxiety, grief, mental distress and emotional crisis.
In addition to this I also offer Outdoor therapy either outdoors by sea in Cromer or literally on the beach in windier weather this can be done under the sheltered canopy of the Log cabin.