It can be more comfortable to talk through your situation while walking. Some people respond better to therapy when talking without the constraints of an enclosed room. This is a valuable alternative to sitting therapy, (face to face) as it can lead to easier conversation. Walking therapy can work for couples too.
Spending time outdoors can help regulate our nervous and immune system. It promotes mindfulness and feelings of gratitude. The calm of nature slows you down and can sooth the unrest of the mind, promoting deep breathing, enjoying the simplicity of nature. Clients experiencing burnout, find walking therapy especially beneficial to do an unwinding walk, to refresh.
There is a very grounding aspect, setting your own walking pace while being in the open air. Exercising releases feel-good hormones reducing stress, depression and anxiety, providing a calming effect on the mind and body. Walking therapy combines these powerful positive influences, while being guided by your Counsellor.
Research suggests that walking creates improvements in both mood and attention, reducing feelings of fatigue and stress. Contributing to a safe space to explore your situation. After walking, 71% of people experienced decreased depression and felt less tense, while 90% felt their self-esteem had increased after a walk.
It doesn’t have to involve all talking, especially since 90 percent of communication is non-verbal. It gives you the opportunity to pause, with a view to recharge your emotional battery, when in need of rekindling your sense of self, supporting the whole self.
The feedback from clients about walking therapy is that it works particularly well with stress, anxiety, depression and enables a more fully embodied experience. It allows for a greater understanding of their situation, as opposed to a purely cognitive one. The positive impact of walking helps us to ground and lowers our fight, flight and freeze response. Clients report increased vitality and greater awareness.
One of the subjects that comes up regularly in walking therapy is spirituality. Perhaps being close to nature allows us to decompress and reflect on our wider, transpersonal selves that connects to something vaster and more meaningful, which finds its expression.
What happens in a Walking Therapy session?
Walking therapy may or may not take a whole session, it can be a part of a session. We decide together what best works and what physical terrain suits you, or what our focus will be, for example; on breathing, or exploring our sensory experience, or the best way to processing an issues, or aspects of personal development you want to focus on; sometimes we reflect on the walking or the conversation we have had; or sit and look at what is around us, alive in our presence. There is time put aside before and after the walking sessions to check in.