Therapy in the outdoors 

Introduction

 

If you would prefer to meet for counselling/therapy in a natural outdoor place instead of a therapy room, I can offer this in a number of locations

I have identified. Various different approaches are then possible. We can work with any of these according to your needs and choices, including:

  • Walking and talking                 

  • Sitting and talking

  • Nature (re)connection

  • Nature immersion

  • Meditation

  • Mindfulness

  • Play

  • Art

  • Ritual

Explanation

 

For many clients, the therapy room is the quiet, safe and confidential space they require. It is neutral and anonymous, and hopefully there is nothing about it to get in the way of the work.

But for some clients, other kinds of location may appeal more. I have a particular interest - born of my own experience - of the possible benefits of taking the work of counselling, and the problems and issues that people bring, and getting outdoors with them.

A growing body of research, as well as common knowledge, points to the therapeutic influence of being 'in nature' on us humans. In simplest terms, a lot of us feel better for getting outside. We may choose to sit or else to walk in a favourite open space - be it 'tame', such as a park or garden, or 'wild', such as a stretch of coastline - while we spend time with ourselves and our issues..

I invite you, if you wish, to try.taking the work of counselling outside with me. I see this as a potential expansion of what I can offer: something that goes beyond talking therapy in a room. What the 'beyond' is will be different for everyone. And what excites me is that outdoors, whether explicitly and intentionally or not, nature is invited into the therapy and may have something to say.

I am open to two broad approaches to working outdoors, and to anything in between them. One is to proceed with counselling as we would do in a room, with nature just happening to be the setting or environment for it. Your preference for meeting outside would not need to be explained or explored, and would not be a focus of the therapy unless you wanted it to be. That said, it is not unlikely that just by virtue of us being outside, nature will in any case enter into the work, whether bidden or not.

The second approach is more like what I understand by 'eco-therapy', 'nature therapy', 'nature reconnection', or other such similar terms. The work would probably stem from you as client wanting to explore your relationship with nature, i.e. as a focus of your therapy. This kind of nature-based therapy views us humans as a part of nature, that is, part of the web of life and the interconnected wider world and universe beyond. It also recognises that many aspects of life today can cause us to feel distant or alienated from the natural world. I can help you to (re)connect with nature, or explore and develop the connection you have, through a range of activities including walking, playing, 'woodland bathing', meditation, art and ritual.

An 'in between' approach is harder to define, but might well consist of you drawing on the natural environment and your relationship with it, as well as on my support, in order to help address and resolve whatever issues you are bringing to therapy/counselling. Nature can in this light be an additional resource for healing, and can even be said to take the role of another therapist, helping you perhaps to gain fresh perspectives on problems, to look anew at your life, or to reconcile what's inside you with the world around us.

 

Whether the experience of nature has been missing from your life, for whatever reason, and you want to reclaim it, or you want to deepen the relationship you already have with the natural world, I can help. Or if you are simply aware that dedicated time spent outdoors does you the power of good, but find it hard to make that time and would like extra support to nurture the frustrated nature-orientated part of you, I can help.

Other possible advantages of outdoor therapy:

  • It gives stimulus and inspiration to look at things about us that we can find reflected in nature - e.g. our growth, our decay, our strengths and weaknesses, our regeneration, our wildernesses; or such themes from our emotional landscape as resilience, struggle, control, calm, acceptance and self-fulfilment.

  • It can make the client-therapist relationship feel more equal. We will both literally be out of our comfort zones and on neutral ground.

  • For some people, it can be a less intimidating or intense experience than sitting face-to-face in a room.

  • The physical dimension - fresh air, breath, movement, engagement of the senses and body - makes for a more holistic therapy.

  • It invites you/us to admit the unknown, unpredictable, mysterious, serendipitous and spontaneous into the therapy - even if this just means the vagaries of the weather!

  • It might lead us to explore how silence, attentiveness, mindfulness and meditativeness can be used as therapeutic tools in a natural setting.