Exploring the effects of the pandemic with walk and talk therapy

The pandemic has understandably taken its emotional toll, which is not surprising as people were required to rapidly and unexpectedly respond to a range of challenges. What is crucial now is for us all to ask ourselves and examine if these levels of stress will persist over time.


People are experiencing significantly more stress, anxiety and depression since lockdown began, with women and young people being the most affected; according to Kings College London (December 2020).

Every year, around one in seven women will experience postnatal depression, however, 77% of new mums say they have felt scared or isolated at some point during their pregnancy because of COVID-19 restrictions; and 88% say they couldn’t attend parent and baby groups because of the pandemic restrictions. 

And, worryingly, “COVID lockdown” was mentioned by 80% of callers to suicide prevention helpline Papyrus, citing uncertainty, worry, fears about isolation and loneliness.

The strongest themes related to mental health, however, are:

  1. The worry about catching COVID-19
  2. Feelings of loneliness
  3. Limited positive experiences - something we can all relate to feeling at one point or another over the last year.

This suggests that, for some, the emotional consequences of the pandemic may require psychological intervention. However, let’s not ignore the highlighted roles for public health and community interventions, too.

What help is available?

Talking to a counsellor can help you see that a wide range of reactions to the pandemic are totally valid and can open deeper conversations about our deepest fears and expectations. I offer counselling in the great outdoors, either while walking, sitting in a wooded clearing, or a mixture of both; also known as 'Walk and Talk Therapy'. 

How can outdoor therapy help?

Working outside can be especially helpful for people who don't have the opportunity to get out into nature very often, and for those who feel as if they thrive better when they do. It is also good for those who may feel a little intimidated or claustrophobic in the environment of a one-on-one session in a room. I reassure clients that COVID-19 measures have been considered for all our safety, whether you choose to work with me indoors or outdoors.

Aside from the obvious benefits associated with physical exercise, working therapeutically outdoors can help with feelings of being “stuck”, anxious, stressed, or angry. Plus, the physical space and headspace that being outside provides releases endorphins and is generally mood-enhancing. I often hear positives from clients after the first session about the way the walking made them feel.

As a mum, I understand the need to connect when your newborn arrives. So, for new parents, I offer the opportunity to bring your new-born along in a carry harness/papoose to walk and talk therapy sessions.

I will listen without judgement, with empathy and warmth, to allow you to work through what is going on for you at your own pace.

This alone can help clients to recognise their own thought patterns, positive or negative and, ultimately, whether they serve them well or not.

We all have a tendency to put others first but, in doing so, we can sometimes neglect our relationship with ourselves. Counselling can show you a kinder, gentler way to treat the most important person in your life, you.

I am based on a farm in Market Bosworth, offering the utmost of client confidentiality, knowing you will not bump into anyone you know on our session.

If you would like to talk to me about how I may be able to help you, please take a look at my profile and visit my website or get in touch - there is absolutely no obligation.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Nuneaton, Leicestershire, CV13
Written by Annie Callingham, The Walk & Talk Therapist
Nuneaton, Leicestershire, CV13

My name is Annie, a person-centred counsellor based on the Leicestershire/Warwickshire border.

Both I and my clients get an awful lot from the "walk and talk" way of working, whether that simply be the great outdoors, or the absence of four walls that can seem claustrophobic for some.

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