Taking therapy outdoors 

Introduction

 

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

I have identified suitable locations within or close to where I am based in Glastonbury, Somerset. A number of different approaches are possible and can be combined. We can try any of these, according to your needs and preferences, including:

  • Walking and talking                 

  • Sitting and talking

  • Nature immersion

  • Nature (re)connection

  • Mindfulness

  • Meditation

  • Play

  • Art

  • Ceremony

How it works

 

For many clients, a therapy room (or a Zoom meeting) is the quiet, safe and confidential space they require. It is neutral and anonymous, and hopefully there is nothing about the format 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 - in the potential benefits of taking the work of counselling, and the problems and issues that people bring to it, into the outdoors.

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

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 or online. What 'beyond' is will be different for each person. Once we go outdoors, we invite nature into the therapy, whether explicitly and intentionally or not, and nature can make a valuable contribution.

I am open to two broad approaches in working outdoors, and to anything in between them. One is to work with talking and listening as we would do in a room or online, with nature just happening to be the setting for this. Your choice to meet outside would not need to be explained or explored, and would not be the focus of the therapy unless you wanted it to be. That said, it is quite likely that just by virtue of us being outside, nature will have a role in 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 you may have come across. This would probably involve you as a client wanting to explore your relationship with nature, as one (but not necessarily the only) focus of your therapy. I can facilitate or guide your explorations. This kind of nature-based therapy attempts to place people as a part of nature, a part of the web of life and the interconnected wider/wilder world and universe beyond ourselves. It also recognises that many aspects of our lives 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 address and resolve whatever issues you are bringing to therapy/counselling. Nature can be a powerful resource for healing and can even be said to take the role of another therapist, helping you perhaps to gain fresh insights or a different perspective on problems, to look anew at your life, or to reconcile what's inside you with the world around you.

 

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 can stimulate and inspire us to find things about ourselves reflected in nature - e.g. growth, decay, regeneration, strengths, weaknesses, wildernesses, fruition, or themes from our emotional life such as struggle, resilience, control, devastation, calm, acceptance and fulfillment.

  • It can lead us to explore how silence, attentiveness, mindfulness and meditativeness can be used therapeutically 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 less intimidating or intense than sitting face-to-face in a room.

  • The physical aspects - 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 - everything from the vagaries of the weather to magical encounters with the other-than-human living world.