- Emma Erickson, LCMHCA, LCASA
Walk & Talk Therapy: Moving To Understanding
Walk and talk therapy is an emerging approach to traditional counseling that combines traditional psychotherapy with the benefits of walking in nature.
Instead of sitting in an office or on zoom, we’ll do our therapy session while walking at places like Wrightsville Beach or Airlie Gardens.
Why try Walk and Talk Therapy?
Combining walking in nature with therapy can promote psychological processing (improve how effective the session is by helping you put information together more quickly and easily) and can help the problem-solving process.
Researchers Revell and McLeod refer to this as getting “unstuck.”
As our society increasingly spends more time indoors and in front of screens, it becomes more important than ever to carve out time to move our bodies and connect with nature. Research indicates that walking in nature can
Decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression
Strengthen mind-body connection
Help people achieve a greater overall sense of wellbeing
Additionally, some people find that sitting face-to-face with a stranger in a quiet office makes for an intimidating start to the therapy process. Stepping outside the office and into nature levels the playing field, helping folks feel more at ease.
Is Walk and Talk Therapy Confidential?
Therapists are legally and ethically bound to uphold confidentiality. However, there are some limitations. Walk and talk therapy is conducted in public spaces, so your privacy and confidentiality cannot be protected at the same level as an office setting. It is possible that we could be overheard by others or seen by individuals we know. However, we will take steps to make sure this does not happen.
In an effort to protect your privacy, we’ll strive to distance ourselves from other individuals in public spaces while we walk. Additionally, we’ll agree on a plan for what to do if we’re seen by anyone you know.
Starting the Process
Your first session will be in-office or virtual. During the initial intake session, I’ll work to learn more about your concerns and goals. We’ll discuss the benefits and risks of walk and talk therapy to ensure you’re fully informed, and we’ll collaboratively decide if we’re a good therapeutic fit.
Before your second session, I’ll provide you with information on where we’ll meet, including information on parking, restroom availability, terrain, and average walking distance per session.
How to Prepare
Before starting walk and talk therapy, it’s important to consult with your primary care physician to address any physical concerns and obtain their approval to participate.
For our first walking session, you’ll want to dress appropriately for the weather and wear shoes you feel comfortable walking in. It’s always a good idea to bring along a water bottle and sunscreen.
How Far Will We Walk? How Fast?
You set the pace! We’ll walk as slowly or as briskly as you’d like. Our pace can provide insight into our inner world. For example, many folks notice increased pace when discussing emotionally charged topics. This offers opportunities to practice awareness and emotional regulation in the moment.
I’ll set a timer on my watch to keep us on track and ensure we turn around at the halfway point in our session. You’ll decide when or if we take breaks to sit. There may be days when you don’t feel like walking, and that’s okay. I come prepared with two outdoor chairs so that we can still harness the healing powers of the outdoors during our therapy session. For folks who decide taking therapy outdoors isn’t a good fit for them, there is always an option to return to in-office or virtual sessions.
What Happens if it Rains?
Renowned clinical psychologist Mary Pipher once said, “There is no bad weather, just bad clothes. I enjoy the earth in all her costumes.”
I’m prepared to conduct walk and talk therapy sessions in the rain, wind, heat, or snow. However, there may be times in which severe storms or extreme heat may pose a threat to our safety.
Additionally, *you* may not feel comfortable doing walk and talk therapy under certain weather conditions. In these cases, we can switch to a virtual therapy session.
For more information on the benefits of Walk and Talk therapy, here are some resources you can check out.
Emma is offering walk and talk therapy sessions on Tuesday and Wednesdays mornings. To get scheduled, please reach out to email@example.com and let our staff know you want to schedule specifically in these slots.