Walk and Talk therapy falls under the umbrella of Ecotherapy. Ecotherapy is a nature-based approach to healing. It includes working with the environment as an approach to healing. When we are outdoors, our senses are more engaged. Walk and Talk therapy allows you to walk side by side with your therapist in an outdoor setting.
The importance of nature for mental health is increasingly recognized in mainstream healthcare. For example, doctors in Scotland can now officially prescribe time in nature to people. In the US and Canada park increasingly, programs aim to encourage physicians to prescribe physical activity to their patients.
Some Benefits to Walk and Talk Therapy
- It can be easier for some to open up outdoors
- Walking side by side can feel less intimidating then sitting in front of someone and using eye contact
- Spending time outdoors are associated with a reduction in symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression
- Movement can increase creativity and energy levels
- Exposure to daylight is also a benefit
What does Science say about Walk and Talk Therapy
Research shows that eye contact can increase anxiety levels which suggests that walking side by side with a therapist can feel more comfortable for some folks. Some of the research found that teenagers and young people preferred walk and talk therapy because it reduced their anxiety about therapy. This may be a better option for people who don’t like the traditional setting where a therapist sits across from you.
Walking Reduces Depression
The Journal of consulting and clinical psychology found that walk and talk therapy was just as effective as traditional talk therapy for treating depression. A recent research survey found that 71 % of people who engaged in a walk felt a decrease in depression symptoms.
Exercise increases the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine which are all linked to mood regulation. Walking increases the mind body connection and can help people to have more awareness of what they are feeling in their bodies. Taking a walk can ground a person’s mind. It has been shown that clients feel centered during and after participating in walk and talk therapy. They experienced clarity in their thinking.
Reduction of Anxiety
If someone is experiencing anxiety in leaving the house or engaging in social activities, walk and talk therapy is one modality that can be therapeutic in helping someone to take steps to be out int he environment. Research has shown that movement helps the nervous system to relax.
Mind Body Connection
Kate Hays, PhD, is the author of Working It Out: Using Exercise in Psychotherapy and has incorporated sports psychology into her clinical practice for more than two decades. Now located in Toronto, Hays continues to explore the mind-body connection in her consulting practice, The Performing Edge, and is past president of the American Psychological Association’s division of exercise and sport psychology.
Hays states that rhythmic exercise, such as walking, can be conducive to the process of self-discovery.
Hays cites three key reasons for combining exercise and therapy:
- It encourages a patient to be more physically active
- It helps a patient get “unstuck” when confronting difficult issues.
- It spurs creative, deeper ways of thinking
The power of nature
Brooks-Fincher also praises the “healing power of nature.” She says many patients consider the association of being outdoors with recreation and vacation, two very positive things that most people want to experience more.
“We have a beautiful setting in which to do this, a public park with a paved path that runs along a small river,” she says. “There are turtles, deer, birds, and a horse farm; restrooms and water fountains are nice assets. Clients who try walk-and-talk often have very dramatic shifts in their thinking about relationships in their lives.”
Licensed clinical social worker Carlton Kendrick, EdM, stated “When I got people walking on the grounds, listening to cows mooing and birds singing, having to avoid a rock in the road, engaged in a multi-sensory experience, the result was the patients were much more talkative and relaxed.”
Experienced walk and talk therapists talk with their clients upfront about how they will handle it if either therapist or client sees someone that they know during the walk.
Walk and Talk Therapy in New Orleans
Modern Therapy and Wellness will be offering Walk and Talk therapy in the fall. Give us a call to get more information 504-452-1483
Modern Therapy and Wellness is a boutique therapy practice in New Orleans, Louisiana. We believe in relationships and we help people to heal them. We have therapists who specialize in couples therapy, grief, addiction, chronic illness and working with the LGBTQ community. We use the Gottman method with couples and we utilize walk and talk therapy as an alternative to traditional talk therapy. Come see us in person in New Orleans or meet with us on your couch anywhere in Louisiana. Email us : Info@moderntherapyandwellness.com or call us at 504-452-1483. We offer a free phone consultation. You can also book with us directly on our website.