Updated: Dec 12, 2021
Before I go further into what walk and talk therapy is, let me tell you just a little on I stumbled across it. My interest in walk and talk therapy started years ago before I even knew what it was. While working on my master’s degree fulltime, I was also working fulltime, thus you could say I was dealing with a good deal of stress and anxiety. During this time, I started really getting into hiking and trail running as a form of fitness, but soon found it was helping me decrease my anxiety and stress, and relax overall. I knew then there was some kind of cause and effect going on, yet I did not know the full power of the outdoors and fitness on mental health.
After reading an article of a veteran who was dealing with PTSD after coming back from a deployment down range, found counseling was not helping him. He eventually started hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and noticed it had profound impact on his PTSD and found himself able to cope with daily life better. After reading this, I did some more research on the topic. I soon came across the book Field Exercises by Stephanie Westlund. Even though the focus of this book is on programs out there which utilizes the outdoors to help veterans, there is a chapter on all the research she found on the impact of the outdoors on everyone, and even animals. I was hooked!
Fast forward to today. I believe strongly on the positive impact of physical activities and the outdoors on one’s mental health. Walk and talk therapy is a great combination of those and is just one tool someone can utilize to help them manage their mental health. Below is some basic information on what it is, benefits and if it’s right for you.
What Walk and Talk Therapy Is
Walk and talk therapy is basically just taking your therapy session outside while walking around a bit. Most often than not, the walking session occurs at your local park or around the area where the therapy office is located. Some therapist allows you to bring your dog which may even add an additional benefit to this modality.
The Benefits of Walk and Talk Therapy
There are many benefits of this type of therapy that clients find useful, the most common one is clients are able to relax more which reduces tension during the session. During the session, you are walking side by side with your therapist rather than facing them straight on. This change in positions actually helps clients open up more when they are talking about difficult situations.
Other benefits include increase in circulation, connection with nature, mind and body connections and release of physical tensions. Finally, research has shown that walk and talk therapy is starting to show increases in creativity, emotional and self-awareness and other positive therapy outcomes during the sessions (APA).
How To Know If It Is Right for You
As with any other models of therapy, if you are interested in walk and talk therapy, talk with your therapist about it to see if it would be a good fit for you. Many clinicians have found it to be useful with teens, those who struggle to maintain eye contact and/or open up during a session, and those with anxiety, depression and grief.
If you are interested in this type of modality, check with your therapist, or a therapist you would like to work with, to see if they offer it and if it is covered with your insurance. The latter part is very important to know as not all insurance companies will cover it, and if they do, there are some specific stipulations around it.
If you are interested in utilizing the walk and therapy model with me, please contact me so we may talk further to see if it will be a good fit for you. Unfortunately, I am not taking insurance with this modality due to those specific stipulations I mentioned before, I am only taking cash clients. If still interested, please contact me for more information.