Walk this way...
I can almost hear you singing along to the great Run DMC & Aerosmith classic but have you ever thought about walking your way to good well-being as you have your therapy session?
I'm intrigued by walking and talking sessions, leaving the four walls of the therapy room for the natural climes of a park or in my case, the countryside near to my home.
I have taken the plunge to offer walking and talking therapy to my clients as a way of allowing openness and freedom to take in the wonderful surroundings, something that we will miss if we are sitting in a cosy room, (not that there is anything wrong with that).
In his book Walk With Your Wolf, Jonathan Hoban encourages us to remember that "Nature is our greatest healer". I find this statement to be so true and releasing.
I have walked alongside clients in all weathers, it's liberating and I notice that there are opportunities to stop and listen; to rid oneself of the hurriedness of life and to rest and be still in a tranquil setting.
I have a particularly special place to walk with clients, let me share my experiences with you.
I have used walking and talking therapy on three occasions; what was great about it was the variation of the weather, the seasons and the time of day that we walked.
My very first experience of this was when I met client A at a walk by a local river as it wound its way through the woodland. It was a sunny day in the springtime. Though there was an air of anxiety with my client; I used the opportunity at an appropriate time off the walk to stop. When we stopped, I instructed my client to stand still and close his eyes, I did the same... I gave the instruction to use our senses to listen to what was around us. I then asked him to open his eyes to examine his surroundings. We continued this for around three minutes.
The experience was incredible and I asked my client to reflect on what he had heard/seen! He later told me that he'd never taken the time to engage with nature the way he did. Hearing the birds singing, the sound of the river, rolling down to the sea. He hadn't experienced seeing natural woodland, seeing lichens and scattered leaves. I could see that the was relaxed and had enjoyed the experience.
Client B was brave enough to take on the elements which were borderline Biblical. We met in a National Trust car park and walked a circuit of natural woodland. The difference from my first experience was that it was hammering down with rain. I asked if he'd want to drive elsewhere or to take the opportunity to walk... to my delight, he chose to walk in the pouring rain! This showed me that there was someone who really wanted to engage in therapy. His lifestyle is one of busyness and at times stressful, so to get out in nature was a useful and great experience for him.
Living where I do, on the edge of Dartmoor National Park has its advantages. I am a five-minute drive from another popular walking area. Client C is in the same vicinity, so we arranged to meet at a reasonably flat but beautiful area of Dartmoor. As we only had an hour, we took a circular route that I'd walked several times with my dog. Almost instantly, my client was open enough to talk about his issue. The fact that there was no one around for miles, made it so much easier. This client grabbed the experience and took notes about what we had shared. There was no edginess or embarrassment, just an experience of being free to discuss with openness.
I am passionate about walking and talking therapy and have availability for sessions at the choice of location that suits my clients. Whether that's a park, by the seashore, in a forest, or by a stream; that's the choice of the client.
If you are looking at starting as a walking and talking therapist you will need public liability insurance, a DBS and maybe even a good pair of walking shoes. It's there to be enjoyed, connecting with your client is easier when the four walls aren't present.
If you have found this article interesting and would like to follow up/talk about the experience, please feel free to contact me.