Walk and Talk Therapy
I am pleased to announce that I am now offering Walk and Talk Therapy!
Are you are interested in trying counselling? But don’t fancy spending another hour of your week sitting down? Walk and Talk Therapy could be for you.
At my office in Hove we’re close to beautiful green space Hove Park. This is a wonderful community hub, made up of 40 acres of open grass, mature trees and flower beds. It’s a great place to get some gentle exercise and all the benefits of being out in nature.
Walk and Talk Therapy is available now to both new and existing clients. If you would like to discuss trying this approach, please ask at your next session. Or if you are a new client, you can get in touch here.
Being Out In Nature
How much of your day do you spend under fluorescent lights? How about staring at a computer screen, at the TV, or your phone?
The mental health benefits of spending time out in nature are huge. Here is a small selection of the research:
- Spending time outdoors has been found to lower the stress hormone cortisol by more than 15%, lower average pulse by almost 4%, and blood pressure by just over 2%
- It has also been linked to lower levels of inflammation, which is linked to a reduced risk of autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, and cancer
- Natural environments are rich in the characteristics necessary to help us recover from mental fatigue
- One study found that walks in the forest were associated with decreased levels of anxiety and bad moods. Another found that outdoor walks could be “useful clinically as a supplement to existing treatments” for depression
- Walking in nature has been found to boost short-term memory by almost 20%
- An analysis of 10 earlier studies about walking in nature found that “every green environment improved both self-esteem and mood”
- Another study found that people immersed in nature for four days boosted their performance on a creative problem-solving test by 50%
Imagine the difference that an hour a week in nature – with the support of a professional – could make to your ability to find your way out of your current difficulties.
From Disconnection to Feeling Better
In his latest book Lost Connections, Johann Hari questions the chemical imbalance medical model of mental health issues.
- Lack of meaningful work
- Disconnection from other people
- Disconnection from meaningful values
- Childhood trauma
- Lack of status and respect
- Disconnection from the natural world
- Lack of a hopeful or secure future
These are all things which it can be helpful to explore in therapy. And often the process of counselling can help you to see clearly what you can change.
- Therapy can help you to process any difficult childhood experiences or other traumas
- The more we talk, the more you’ll come to understand yourself and your core values. (Is this something you want to work on in more depth? If so I have a great exercise we can do with a pack of values cards)
- My specialism is your relationships and how you can make the most of them, healing your disconnection from others
- Through thinking about what you really want from your life, you might see a way to change your work, or see the value in the work you do
- Nothing can increase your sense of status more than your own self-respect, which is rooted in self-knowledge
- As you start to feel better, you will regain your hope for the future
The one area that therapy has not traditionally been able to help with is disconnection from the natural world. This is where Walk and Talk Therapy comes in.
How Does Being Out In Nature Help?
On our sense of disconnection from the natural world and the benefits of spending time out in nature, Johann Hari writes,
When you are depressed… you feel that “now everything is about you”. You become trapped in your own story and your own thoughts, and they rattle around in your head with a dull, bitter insistence. Becoming depressed or anxious is a process of becoming a prisoner of your ego, where no air from the outside can get in. But a range of scientists have shown that a common reaction to being out in the world is the precise opposite of this sensation – a feeling of awe.
Faced with a natural landscape, you have a sense that you and your concerns are very small, and the world is very big – and that sensation can shrink the ego down to a manageable size. “It’s something larger than yourself,” Isabel [Behncke] said, looking around her. “There’s something very deeply, animally healthy in that sensation. People love it when it occurs its brief, fleeting moments.” And this helps you see the deeper and wider ways in which you are connected to everything around you. “It’s almost like a metaphor for belonging in a grander system,” she says. “You’re always embedded in a network,” even when you don’t realize it; you are “just one more node” in this enormous tapestry.
Hove Park is no Grand Canyon! But walking outside, seeing the space and the trees and the sky, you can get a little taste of this sensation.
Walk and Talk Therapy: The Practicalities
You might have questions about the practicalities of Walk and Talk Therapy. It is important that we consider carefully whether it will be right for you. This will include how we will manage confidentiality in a public space, and what we might do in inclement weather.
We can discuss those details in person, but you can read more about how Walk and Talk Therapy works here.
You can also join my mailing list here.
*From Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, by Johann Hari.