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  • Coastal Calm

What is "Walk and Talk Therapy"for Mental Health, Exactly?

"Create a clearing in the dense forest of your life" -Martha Postlewaite

woman balancing on a forest log

Walk and Talk Therapy, simply put, is moving the therapy session out of the office and into an outdoor space in nature. This therapy has gained recent popularity with therapists and clients alike, as who doesn't like playing in the forest?

Walk and Talk therapy is based on the Japanese concept of "forest bathing," which essentially means being mindful in the woods and allowing the experience of being connected with nature to bring mental health benefits.

So what are the mental health benefits of Walk and Talk Therapy? Time spent in the forest is literally grounding, so it can alleviate stress and anxiety symptoms by bringing mindful attention to the present moment walking on the earth. The rhythmic movement of walking also has a calming effect on the nervous system. According to research on ecotherapy- which is defined as any nature-based therapeutic activity- spending time outdoors in natural settings elevates mood, increases creativity, reduces burnout, improves sleep, boosts immunity, and promotes resilience. Benefits we can all use, right?

Being in nature also connects us with our childlike playful side, and may evoke positive childhood memories of forest-based experiences. Growing up on the West Coast, much of my childhood was spent in the forest, building forts, hiding in hollow stumps, and creating with sticks and rocks, so there is an appealing nostalgia to being in the woods for me. Standing below towering trees also inspires a sense of awe, reverence, and gratitude. It may put things into perspective and inspire connection with the land we live on.

So how does it work? In my practice, I meet up with clients at beautiful Mundy Park in Coquitlam, BC. We take a 45 minute walking loop through the park trails. Along the way, I guide clients in a mindfulness practice to bring awareness to the present moment and connect with the forest surroundings. We chat about whatever is on your mind or focus on mental health concerns, working towards your therapeutic goals, similar to an in-office session. In regards to confidentiality, the space is public, but I attempt to keep these walking sessions as private as possible.

Most of all, Walk and Talk Therapy provides a change of scenery and an appealing option to bring variety to your therapy experience. It is suitable for clients who are in reasonably good physical health and who enjoy being outdoors.

If you have any questions about Walk and Talk or if you would like to chat about it being an option for you, you are welcome to email me, or if you are ready to start down the Walk and Talk path, give us a call at Serenity Health to book your session: 604.492.0815

Salal bushes in the sun and tall trees

I acknowledge with gratitude that the forest where these Walk and Talk sessions take place is part of the traditional, unceded, ancestral territories of kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Coquitlam) First Nations people.

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