What is Outdoor therapy, or Walk & Talk?
It’s counselling.. but not as we know it!
For some people, the intensity of sitting face to face with a therapist can feel uncomfortable – so walking side by side is an alternative to more ‘traditional’ counselling, which some may find more easy to engage with. Studies have shown that walking outdoors can improve our mental wellbeing. Just being in nature can open us up to really see the beauty that is around us – and walking and talking alongside a therapist can open up new ways of working together for us.
Here is a link to a BBC article outlining some research which suggests that being in green spaces really improves wellbeing – and can reduce anxiety and low mood:
There is also a physical benefit to walking outdoors and although our pace will be gentle, walking has well-documented benefits such as increased serotonin (‘happy hormone’) levels – and decreased stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which power our ‘Fight or Flight’ stress response. The NHS Choices website says: “Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.”
If you’d like to try some outdoor therapy, it’s best to meet indoors first – just to get to know each other a little and to talk about how our sessions outdoor might work.
We can also discuss practical stuff – like what kind of clothing to bring, what we’ll do if the weather is terrible, (as Manchester’s often is!) what we’ll do if either of us bumps into someone we know – and so on. It’ll also give you a chance to ask me any questions or raise any concerns you may have about having an outdoor session.
Finally – here’s a video by therapist Phil Gormley, as a guide to some of the things you might expect from Walk & Talk therapy: