For the past 12 months, I have been offering ‘Walk & Talk’ sessions. I meet a client outside my counselling room and we walk at an easy pace along the Thames, over one of the bridges to the South Bank, arriving back at the room at the end of the 50-minute ‘therapy hour’.
The roots of this approach with my adult clients lie in work I did with young people in care homes before I qualified as a psychotherapist.
The power of talking side by side is an increasingly recognised phenomenon in counselling. A young person in care is vulnerable and often has good reason to distrust adults. They struggle to sit in a room and be asked questions by grown-ups as their previous experience of this situation has been with social workers, teachers, medical professionals or the police.
However, these young people also have a lot of unprocessed emotions so sitting in a formal therapy session may well feel overwhelming or even frightening for them.
I often found that doing an activity together – preparing a meal, baking a cake, or going on a trip away from the home – helped the young people relax and enter a less self-conscious space.
As we were following the cake recipe, for example, they would be chatting informally about things and this might lead on to a disclosure or a memory they had never shared with another person (and certainly not with an adult).
The young people clearly felt they were in control of what they were saying, going at their own pace, and they knew they could revert to the safety of the baking if they needed to.
One might imagine that being outside could make sessions feel less personal but when we are walking and talking, I am literally side by side with my client.
Working within the City of London, where my typical clients come from the fields of banking, finance, insurance, legal and marketing I have found Walk & Talk counselling translates as well as it did with young people. You can choose to do most or all of your sessions with Walk & Talk, or we can mix it up. Whatever works best for you.
And, of course, the physical act of walking is proven to have a positive effect on mental health. A 2018 review by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College, London concluded that 20 minutes of exercise per day can reduce the risk of depression by 33 percent.
Hear & Now Therapy offers Walk & Talk counselling in the City of London. Conveniently located off Cannon Street we can easily work your counselling sessions into a pleasant break walking over the bridges and along the Thames.
You can book your Walk & Talk session with Naomi by clicking the button below or by emailing Naomi at firstname.lastname@example.org