Outdoor Therapy

To walk is by a thought to go;
To move in spirit to and fro;
To mind the good we see;
To taste the sweet;
Observing all the things we meet
How choice and rich they be.
                                                                                             Thomas Traherne

When I mention therapy and counselling what setting comes to mind? A couch, armchairs, perhaps a diploma or soothing picture on the wall? It is how many therapists offices look, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it is not the only setting in which therapy can take place.

We know the benefits of nature, the research has influenced building design,  the well being of children, and the practice of therapy. When even a picture, pot plant or green view has been shown to have a restorative or positive effect people have considered, what if we got therapy right out of the office altogether? In asking this question both nature therapy and walking therapy were born.

We know the benefits of exercise, although we must be aware of ableism, and we know that nature has been shown to have a healing effect. Outdoor therapy, also sometimes known as walking therapy or  walk and talk combines the two. I find that sessions often mirror the landscape. A standing stone, a tree laden with ivy, leaves blown across the ground all become symbols the mind transforms during walking therapy.

I am fortunate to live in the beautiful Northumbrian countryside, and so perhaps outdoor therapy was obvious for me to try, especially as I find my own walks incredibly therapeutic. I am not a super sportsperson either, something vital I think in choosing routes. When someone wants to try outdoor therapy I send over an accessiblity form, which allows me to ensure the routes are suitable, and outdoor therapy can take place on a quiet bench, or blanket on a hillside, and still have the benefits of moving outside of the usual theraputic settings.

If you are interested in finding out more about walking therapy Iyou can use the contact form or email me on northumberlandcounselling@gmail.com and you can read more about Outdoor Therapy in an article I contributed to on the BACP website here

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