In addition to indoor talking therapy, I also offer outdoor and walking sessions in Faversham, Canterbury and the surrounding areas.
Walking therapy is counselling whilst walking. I also offer outdoor sessions that include less walking, but use the natural environment (the beach or the woods, for example) as our counselling “room”.
What are the benefits of outdoor therapy
The immersion in, and connection to the natural environment provides a great opportunity for grounding and considering how we relate to the world around us and ourselves. Although simply walking outdoors can be therapeutic and relaxing in itself, the walking counselling sessions I offer incorporate counselling theory and skills into the process with the aim of deepening the opportunity for self reflection and awareness.
For some people, walking side-by-side in an open environment can feel less intense than sitting face-to-face in a room with a counsellor. This can help people to open up and feel able to talk more freely about challenging issues or emotions.
It is widely accepted that walking (and other forms of exercise) is beneficial in reducing depression, stress, anxiety and promoting healing from trauma. Blood flow to the brain is increased and serotonin is released (the “happiness” hormone).
Increasingly, research is suggesting that our connection to the natural world is important for our mental health and well-being. From inspiring feelings of awe, to slowing us down and bringing us into the moment.
From an existential and person-centred counselling approach, I also believe that there is huge value to be found in accepting ourselves as we are, right here and now. Being in nature can often put a spotlight on just being, and existing.
If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence, we could rise up rooted, like treesRainer Maria rilke
How does walking therapy work?
We arrange an initial indoor consultation session to discuss what you are coming to counselling for, and to agree boundaries, expectations and confidentiality. We have a separate contract (agreement) for outdoor sessions to indoor ones as there are different things we need to keep in mind (passers by, dogs, trip/slip risk increases). The outdoor counselling environment is less predictable and controlled than a confidential room. This can bring about a rich therapeutic experience, but it is also important that we recognise and put in place appropriate boundaries to ensure your safety. We may need several indoor sessions first to get to know each other well enough to feel comfortable taking our sessions outdoors.
We walk a pre-planned route (approximately 4km / 50 minutes long depending on pace) and talk as we walk.
How does outdoor therapy work?
Sitting inside for counselling might not appeal some days but taking the session outside, either for part or the whole of the session might be what you’re looking for.
Walking for 50 minutes might be too strenuous, or you might prefer to pause and sit rather than walking a planned route.
We can meet at a number of places including the park, woods and the beach. All of these places offer an abundance of natural materials that we can use creatively to explore feelings, relationships and experiences that can be difficult to express in words alone.
As with walking therapy, a separate contract is discussed and agreed during an indoor session due to confidentiality and a less controllable environment.
Contact me to discuss whether outdoor or walking therapy is right for you.