Walk and talk therapy is something that can be beneficial to clients of all ages. Instead of sitting in front of me in the therapy room, the counselling session takes place outdoors walking side by side.
If you have felt stuck in therapy in the past, being physically active can help to release some tensions and stimulates new thoughts and ideas. It is counselling in motion and a metaphor for moving forward.
During a walk and talk therapy session, you lead the pace just like in a traditional counselling session. Yet the dynamic is fairly different. You and your counsellor are on the same footing, literally. Walking side by side can be much less intimidating and helps release inhibition. It can be taken as an introduction to counselling, followed up by a more formal type of therapy if you’re apprehensive about being alone in a room with a therapist looking directly at you.
Even if you’re confident talking face to face to a counsellor, you might become apprehensive when confronting particularly tricky issues for you. The combination of walking and fresh air allows for easier engagement and process, and you can feel more grounded as you’re moving forward while walking.
Usually the first session starts from my practice or at a place that suits you. We can both decide on a route together or choose one I have already checked out and prepared for. I have an access form here (link to access form) that clients will need to complete before our first session so I have an idea of your requirements and the routes we can take on our walks together.
Although I am not deterred by a few drops of rain, it will be the clients call as to whether we go out or have the session indoors. During your first session we will also discuss issues of confidentiality and how you will negotiate encountering other people when out walking. Whether it’s in a park, by a beach or in town, seeing people walking and talking side by side is a very common sight. A client and therapist walking side by side don’t look any different.
For some people, walking outside might itself confront issues they would like to address such as a fear of open spaces or a fear of feeling judged for their appearance. Having a therapist on your side might ease a return to engaging in social situations. The focus of walk and talk therapy is not on how fast or far you can walk but on you, your process and what you are comfortable with.