Walking therapy. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? You are talking to a counsellor and walking in public. About your problems! What if people see you? What if you run into someone you know?
Seeking help from a mental health provider has long been stigmatized. People fear admitting they have an issue will make them look weak. Being in public may be cause for uncertainty but here is the thing: walking therapy is private. Counsellors who provide walking therapy ensure all precautions are taken to keep the privacy of the individual a priority. Details are worked out ahead of time so the client can feel secure and comfortable. It's common to see people walking and talking without reason to question what is being discussed.
Like most things, walking therapy isn’t for everyone. It can be a great addition to therapy for those who prefer not to sit in a room, face-to-face, during their counselling session. Others enjoy being in nature while participating in therapy because it feels less clinical than traditional counselling. Still others seek out walking therapy because they get activity while working through their issues which allows them to take care of their body and mind! There is an additional benefit to walking therapy to which you may be unaware: It helps people get “unstuck.”
When we remove the four walls of an office and venture outside, there is a sense of freedom brought to the therapeutic session. With the addition of visual distraction, fresh air, and activity, clients describe a feeling of relaxation. As a result, clients develop an added level of clarity and insight into their issues. It’s as if the environment fosters an increased level of creativity when dealing with their problems. Issues that they’ve long been struggling with seem less circuitous. Previously, where they were once stuck or at an impasse, they can find a workaround.
Not a lot of research has been done on walking therapy but there are many reports from counsellors and their clients on the benefits. Additionally, there seems to be specific issues conducive to walking therapy. These include depression, anxiety, grief and loss, trauma and anything where there is an impasse or a feeling of being stuck. Additionally, male clients tend to find this type of therapy highly beneficial.
Symbolically, walking therapy aligns with my philosophy of counselling. The location of the therapy is on neutral ground. There is an atmosphere of equality. I like the visual of the counsellor coming alongside the client to assist them on their journey/path as they walk in parallel. Finally, the client sets the pace. It’s not the counsellor leading them, it’s the two (or more individuals) working together to move forward both figuratively and literally.
If you are feeling stuck or have avoided counselling because you feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable at the thought of sitting in close proximity to someone while looking them in the eyes, sharing your most personal fears, thoughts and feelings, book a walking appointment with me. Together we can stride toward wellness.