So often we men don’t like talking about our personal stuff. Sometimes the chair in the therapy room or even online just makes it more challenging to think of stepping over the void and reaching out for someone to talk to.

So for those men who want to be out there in nature, who talk more easily while they’re walking, Walking-Talks are maybe for you, even if it’s initially just to get to know each other for the first session or so.

Walk-and-Talk therapy is a concept that can be best described as “taking the traditional Counselling, Therapeutic Coaching session outdoors.

As a Walk-and-Talk therapist, I use the beautiful South Cotswolds surroundings to our benefit. I live in the 5-Valleys, near Stroud, and as an avid hiker know the huge benefits of the great outdoors and what it can bring to the heart, mind, and spirit in helping ground and organise those thoughts and feelings.

Benefits of walk-and-talk therapy

Walk-and-Talk therapy can also be an especially helpful method of working if you don’t have the opportunity to get out into nature very often and for those who feel as if they thrive better when they do. I have learnt that having therapeutic conversations with clients in the great outdoors, either while walking, sitting in a wooded clearing, or a mixture of both, adds a totally different and positive dynamic to the experience.

Of course, Counselling or Psychotherapy, Therapeutic Coaching, and Supervision in-clinic, in-person or online still have a place for many clients. However, as the choice of how sessions take place must always sit with the client, it’s important to outline the benefits of walk-and-talk counselling to understand more options.

    • Outdoors is good for those who may feel a little anxious or claustrophobic in the environment of a one-on-one session in a room –  the potential intensity of eye contact is removed for those who find it an uncomfortable part of therapeutic work.
    • When we move our bodies and shift our environment, we can think differently about aspects of our lives that have before seemed immovable. Being outdoors is a physically more relaxing experience for our bodies and, therefore, our minds are freer to open up.
    • Working therapeutically outdoors can help with feelings of being “stuck”, as we are moving forwards in the sessions physically and the sense of looking forwards to the changes that clients want from therapy.
    • Being outside releases endorphins and is generally mood-enhancing, can support weight loss, lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity, speeds up digestion, and improves heart health.
    • Walking together side by side also means a sense of equality and union in the partnership between client and counsellor, along with the often hugely valuable silences in therapy that are much easier to bear for many people.

What about the weather?

I’m happy to walk in any weather, but clients might prefer not to, and there is no pressure to do so. I  understand if it’s too hot or pouring rain, and walking feels like too much; we can always switch to another way to have the session instead. Whatever is preferred by the client at that time.

What about confidentiality?

As a registered Walk-and-Talk therapist, I enable the maintenance of confidentiality boundaries by agreeing that, in the unlikely event we should meet anyone either of us knows, we will indicate it to one another, using a codeword or phrase and pause the conversation until we are alone again.

What about boundaries?

Although outside in nature, it must always be remembered that we are still engaged in a therapeutic relationship. The working contract is still present and valid, even though we are outside. Professional boundaries are important for our work’s emotional safety and integrity and something that will be explained in the first session, just as though the session were indoors.

What if I’m not used to walking?

We’ll walk as slowly or as quickly as feels comfortable for you and on a terrain that suits you. You may decide you’d like to take a pause at a nearby bench or walk throughout. It’s totally up to you as the client. We might link our work to the pace that we are moving at, as it can sometimes be a good indication of what’s going on for you.

What can clients expect from the sessions?

In Walk-and-Talk therapy, we will typically meet at the same time and place each week. This offers clients a sense of start and finish, and is an ideal way to safely ground clients after the session before they continue the rest of their day.

Choosing suitable attire is in the hands of the client. I like to remind clients of needing the correct footwear, coat, etc., for the time of year and weather eventualities. I take care of the first aid kit, hike cushions to sit on, antibacterial hand gel, and other items in case of emergency. Walk-and-Talk therapists will have conducted a risk assessment for the client’s safety.

There are several routes that I walk regularly, and we can select one of these to suit you; you may prefer to have a slow walk, or you may prefer to walk to a seating area or a walk through the woods, where you can experience “stillness and peace” while we work together.

There is nothing more important than the relationship between counsellor and client when working therapeutically towards making changes in your life. If Walk-and-Talk counselling and or Coaching is a way of working that you think might work for you, why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose.

I’m very happy to answer any questions you may have prior to starting sessions so that we both know what you hope to gain from therapy. So if you’ve arrived at the place where you need to talk, whether you wish that to be online, in-person, Walking-Talks, or maybe a combination, it would be a pleasure to hear from you.