Therapy in the outdoors 

Introduction

 

If you would prefer to meet for counselling/therapy in a natural outdoor setting instead of a therapy room, I can offer this too.

I have identified suitable locations close to where I am based south of Norwich. Various different approaches are possible. We can work with any of these according to your needs and choices, including:

  • Walking and talking                 

  • Sitting and talking

  • Nature immersion

  • Nature (re)connection

  • Mindfulness

  • Meditation

  • Play

  • Art

  • Ceremony

Explanation

 

For many clients, a 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 to some clients, other kinds of location may appeal more. I have a particular interest - informed by my own experience - of the potential benefits of taking the work of counselling, and the problems and issues that people bring, into the outdoors.

A growing body of research, as well as common knowledge, points to the therapeutic influence of being 'in nature' on us humans. In simple 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 therapy outside with me. I see this as an expansion of what I can offer: something that goes beyond talking therapy in a room. What the 'beyond' is will be different for everyone. Once we are outdoors, nature is invited into the therapy, whether explicitly and intentionally or not, 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 through talking and listening as we would do in a room, with nature just happening to be the setting for this. Your choice to meet outside would not necessarily need to be explained or explored, and would not be the focus of the therapy unless you wanted it to be. However, it is quite likely that just by virtue of us being outside, nature will enter into the work, whether bidden or not.

The second approach is more what I understand by 'eco-therapy', 'nature therapy', 'nature reconnection', or other such similar terms. This would probably stem from you as client wanting to explore your relationship with nature, i.e. as one (but not necessarily the only) focus of your therapy. This kind of nature-based therapy sees people 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 ceremony.

An 'in between' approach is also possible: 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 be an additional resource for healing, and can even be said to take the role of another therapist, helping you perhaps to gain a fresh perspective on problems, to look anew at your life, or to reconcile what's inside you with the natural world around us.

 

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

Other possible advantages of outdoor therapy:

  • It gives stimulus and inspiration to look at things about us that we 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 lead us to explore how silence, attentiveness, mindfulness and meditativeness can be used as therapeutic tools in a natural setting.

  • It can make the client-therapist relationship feel more equal. We will both be out of our comfort zones, literally, 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 - can make for a more holistic therapy.

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

Please note that while the info below holds true, I am currently - as of August 2020 - offering outdoor therapy on a short-term basis only: up to 12 weeks. If you are still interested on this basis, please get in touch and we can discuss how this might work for you.