What is therapy outdoors?
Imagine sitting in a small, cramped, hot room, opposite a stranger, who is sitting, staring at you, expecting you to tell them the intimate, private parts of your life story. The heat builds. The pressure builds. You want to escape the room; the person sitting opposite you.
Now imagine walking side by side, through a forest, or meadow … space to move, space to think, space to shout, space to breathe. Both of you aware of the breeze on your skin, the sound of the birds, touching the tall grass as you pass through. How different would that feel? Now you feel able to start to tell your story. Outdoor therapy is talking therapy, outdoors.
How does therapy outdoors work?
Talking therapy works because we tell our stories and in having them reflected back at us, we can see if they feel true for us - the therapist works as a sort of mirror. When our our stories are accepted and not judged, we feel able to bring parts of ourselves we might have buried or hidden, out into the open. In this way, old wounds can begin to heal; and we can re-build ourselves; re-make ourselves. Therapy outdoors works in this way, but outdoors, rather than in a room.
Why have therapy outdoors?
Being outdoors is good or us. Studies show it is good for our brain function, gives us feel good hormones, helps physical wounds heal more quickly, lessens the need for pain killers, gives us a sense of perspective and is even good for our eye sight - slowing the development of myopia. It’s a perfect antidote to today’s fast paced, technological way of life. It facilitates us to pay attention to the present, for example, if it starts to rain, you need to find shelter. And it helps us feel connected to the world around us and a sense of awe and wonder as we consider, for example, the 200 year old tree.
Having the choice to walk and talk, can feel freer than sitting in a room opposite someone. Moving your body can help your mind to become unstuck too. Big emotions like anger, frustration and fear can feel too big for a small room, working outdoors gives you space to explore these feelings.
Are there any disadvantages?
The weather. Would you still want to be outdoors in the rain? Have you got appropriate clothes to keep you dry?
Other people. We will pass people, perhaps even people you know. Careful consideration has to be given to confidentiality. We will talk about this before we start.
It’s risky - you could trip or a branch might fall on you. Yes, that’s true, but we will do a risk assessment before we start. And it’s worth bearing in mind that the reason you will be coming to talk is because life’s already become messy and painful.