From a young age I was aware that being out in the open countryside was good for you, both physically and mentally. As a wee boy, I would always feel better for having played outside. I was lucky enough to grow up near enough to woods and parks, so being able to run freely outside my home was second nature to me.
Now, many decades later, I have come to appreciate that being out in the elements really is therapeutically good for you. And that is why I offer my clients the opportunity of doing what I call “Walking and Talking Therapy” – which means exactly what it says; we walk and we talk.
It does not suit everyone, as many people prefer the safe, environment of a therapy room. For those who feel constrained by the indoors, or who just feel they can open up more in a wide open space whilst walking through beautiful countryside, then walking and talking is a great option.
The mental health charity Mind carried out extensive research a few years ago which showed how walking in the countryside could help reduce depression and anxiety. In their survey they reported that 71% of respondents felt decreased depression and less tense after a “green” walk, while 90% felt their self-esteem increase after walking.
It is not just Mind that believes in the benefits of being out in green spaces – other mental health organisations and the NHS see the benefits. In fact any kind of exercise can help to reduce levels of stress, depression and anxiety.
Some clients are more comfortable walking and talking and find it easier to start discussing their problems when strolling along a country path. I have found walking and talking therapy effective with people of all ages. Older clients who like to stroll along at a gentle pace find being surrounded by nature very reassuring. Walk too fast and you can miss nature at work – the invisible side of our world that carries on beneath our feet/in the trees and around us.
Being connected to the outside world can be beneficial, and walking and talking can help with numerous problems, not just depression and anxiety but loss and grief, or any kind of difficult life transitions you may be facing – personal, relationship-based, family or work related.
All walks take place in at a suitable place, pre-arranged after you make contact. It depends on your situation, and of course the weather.
Perhaps you might have tried traditional therapies and it was not for you: Walking and talking could be an excellent alternative. If you are nervous – as most people understandably are on their first visit to a therapist – let us find a place where you feel most comfortable and familiar with, to ease any nerves. Bring someone along with you, as they could drop you off and pick up after 45 minutes; whatever you are happy with.
I hope to meet with you soon.