One of our favorite things about our practice is that we offer park therapy. It’s definitely a different counseling experience-both for the client and for the therapist. It sometimes allows more space for big, intimidating conversations. Especially ones that might include the phrase “I’ve never told anyone this before but….” Other times, it’s just one of those ways to enjoy a beautiful day.
On its face, there may be some obvious benefits to park therapy or what is also sometimes called walk-and-talk therapy. You get to be in the fresh air and (usually) enjoying sunshine, soaking up that Vitamin D people love to talk about. It gets your body moving, even if it’s low impact. Most people recognize that for some people, it can be easier to talk when you’re side-by-side than sitting across from someone in the office. All of these things about park therapy are true.
But we also want to tell you about a few surprising benefits of walking therapy. They’re pretty cool!
1.) You can experience an increase in self-esteem.
This is one of the first things I learned as a benefit when I was researching walking therapy and what I might not know about it. For some reason—maybe because improving self-esteem can sometimes be a long journey that takes hard work and patience—it hit me pretty hard. “What? From just walking with someone else? Even in a first or second session with someone they just met and in a professional capacity?” Yes! As it turns out, keeping pace with someone not only regulates your physiology (heart rate, blood pressure) but also can do some brain rewiring and increase self-esteem. And honestly, I think we can all use a boost in that department, even just once in a while. So even if you’re not coming to therapy for issues in self-esteem, it’s a pretty cool supplemental benefit.
2. ) It encourages mindfulness.
Okay, so, I know some people hear the term mindfulness and think “oh gosh, more of THAT?! Can’t we find something new already?” I hear you. I see you. Heck, I’ve *been* you. But here’s the thing about mindfulness once you become juuuuust open enough to lean in.
You realize it works. It actually does what you wish something existed to help you do: be more chill; be more patient; keep things in perspective; not get so worked up; feel happier; feel more fulfilled.
The hard part about mindfulness is that it takes some practice at the beginning. It’s not as though (unfortunately) you decide to start engaging in it and snap, you’re good at it. You have to adjust---your brain, and your body, and your expectations. And that’s a really hard process, especially as an adult. Because we don’t often really learn new things as an adult so we’re out of practice on how to be new at something.
So, one of the tricks there is to set yourself up for success. And one of the ways to do that is to be outside. “Outside” is an environment that works with you to slow you down, create perspective, inspire awe and gratitude, and a whole host of other things….that environment is a great bridge to more regularly practicing mindfulness.
(For more tips and tricks on how to starting practicing mindfulness through the tool of meditation, check out this blog we wrote awhile back: https://www.marblewellness.com/post/the-practice-of-meditation-6-tips-to-successfully-get-started.)
3) Nature and movement help stimulate a more relaxed state, making it much easier to talk and share.
Our Marble Wellness team recognizes just how much it can take to even call us to get something set up. (Honestly, that’s why potential clients can email us or even book directly online; it can sometimes be too overwhelming to call and we don’t want that to be the reason you don’t set up an appointment. You deserve to feel better and we’re SO here for you!) Then, you have to come in for the first session! That is a lot! Clients so often have a pretty major internal dialogue before their first counseling session, the intensity of which can be enough to have them change their minds and not get started:
- “What are we going to talk about?”
-“Am I going to cry? Ohmygosh, what if I cry?”