Beyond the Therapy Room
The therapy room provides a safe and private space in which to speak honestly and in confidence. In this space it's easy to stay focused on the thoughts, feelings and sensitive information that unfolds. As clients, our attention is drawn to what is going on inside ourselves and the empathic attention of our therapist. The four walls create a boundary and a container where we can have this unique experience. Similarly, as a therapist the room acts as a crucible for the client's stories and the work that takes place.
So what happens when we step outside?
Once outside, therapy requires a very different way of working and an alternative approach to dealing with issues such as boundaries. Without the four walls as a container counselling becomes a very different experience; yet if this is managed well by a skilful therapist, stepping outside might provide alternative perspectives.
Nature may provide a different container where we can, perhaps, explore the wildness of our internal experiences; our untamed feelings and the aspects of ourselves that are growing or decaying. By stepping out and really observing nature, perhaps for the first time, it may also point to the changing nature of our collective experiences of life. We may get a glimpse of how connected to nature we really are, how many of us have lost this connection and the healing that can come from reconnecting. Nature can teach us presence as well as acceptance.
Many Eco therapists are trained to work with clients outdoors and EcoPsychology is the exploration of how we, as a species, have lost contact with the natural environment - and, as such, with our own true nature. It explores how many of the anxieties and difficulties we face in our lives are as a result of this loss.
What about urban environments?
Man-made environments can also be seen as part of nature, albeit the natural world shaped and fashioned by us. Here, though, boundaries become much more of an issue and therapy takes on a very different language as buildings, traffic, people and life situations play an active role in our movement through life. Out on the street, therapy can accompany us as we journey through our everyday lives noticing how we react to things, what we avoid and how we negotiate obstacles. As clients we can become our own therapists and observe our daily voyages. Rather than keeping our heads down and rushing from A to B we now become curious about our relationship to the physical world. How are we when we're on public transport, stuck in a traffic jam, at the supermarket, having lunch, having a meeting at work, sending a text, talking to a neighbour, putting the rubbish out etc.
Stepping out of the therapy room is what we as clients and therapists do as we make our way back into our daily journeys and pathways. The spaces beyond the counselling room, whether green or urban, can become teachers and healers if we allow them.
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