Walking Talking Therapy
Walking talking therapy can be an especially helpful method of working for people who like to get outside – perhaps a break from working at a desk, an opportunity to get out into nature and for people who find it easier to talk whilst walking.
Benefits of walking talking therapy
Outdoor counselling is good for those who may find it less anxiety-provoking, or claustrophobic, than the environment of a one-on-one session in a room – the potential intensity of eye contact is lessened for people who sometimes find it an uncomfortable part of therapeutic work.
When we move and shift our environment, we may find that we can think differently about aspects of our lives that may have before seemed unchangeable. Being outdoors can be a physically more relaxing experience for us and a knock on effect can be that our minds are freer to open up.
Working therapeutically outdoors can help with feelings of being “stuck”, as we are moving forwards in the sessions physically and the sense of looking forwards to the changes that are wanted from therapy.
Being outside releases endorphins and is generally mood-enhancing for a lot of people.
Walking together side by side can bring a sense of equality between client and counsellor, along with the often-valuable silences in therapy that are much easier to bear for many people when walking along side each other
What to expect from your walking talking sessions?
Walk and talk therapists will typically meet at the same time and place each week. This offers clients a sense of start and finish, and is an ideal way to safely ground clients after the session before they continue the rest of their day.
There are several routes that I walk regularly, and we can select one of these to suit you; you may prefer to have a slow walk, or you may prefer to walk to a seating area or a walk through the park, where you can experience “stillness and peace” while we work together. Other therapists may have differing routes, so it’s always worth asking if you’re unsure of what to expect.
There is nothing more important than the relationship between the counsellor and the client when working therapeutically towards making changes in your life. If walking talking counselling is a way of working that you think might work for you, why not give it a try? It is becoming increasingly popular. It is a good way of working ‘in the here and now’ bringing up what is happening for you in this moment. Walking talking therapy can be helpful when working around:
Unresolved childhood issues
What about the weather?
I’m happy to walk in most weather, but clients might prefer not to, and there is no pressure to do so. I understand if it’s too hot or pouring with rain, and walking feels like too much; we can always switch to another way to have the session instead. Whatever is preferred by the client at that time. This could be sitting on a bench in the shade or back in the therapy room.
What about confidentiality?
I offer walking talking therapy in quiet spaces. In order to maintain a client’s confidentiality boundaries we would agree that, in the unlikely event that you should meet anyone you know, we will indicate it to one another using a codeword or phrase and pause the conversation until we are alone again or another system that works best for you.
What about boundaries?
Although the physical boundaries are freer, both client and counsellor must remember that we are still engaged in a therapeutic relationship. The working contract is still present and valid, even though we are outside. Professional boundaries are important for our work’s emotional safety and integrity and something that will be explained in the first session, just as though the session were indoors.
What if I want to sit down?
We’ll walk as slowly or as quickly as feels comfortable for you. You may decide you would like to take a seat at a nearby bench or walk throughout. It’s totally up to you as the client. We might link our work to the pace that we are moving at, as it can sometimes be a good indication of what’s going on for you.