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Walk and Talk Therapy

Exercise is good for the body and the mind. It may improve psychotherapy sessions, too.
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Walk and Talk Therapy: Tapping Into Nature's Healing Power continued...

Brooks-Fincher also praises the "healing power of nature." She says many patients consider the association of being outdoors with recreation and vacation, two very positive things that most people want to experience more.  

"We have a beautiful setting in which to do this, a public park with a paved path that runs along a small river," she says. "There are turtles, deer, birds, and a horse farm; restrooms and water fountains are nice assets. Clients who try walk-and-talk often have very dramatic shifts in their thinking about relationships in their lives."

Licensed clinical social worker Carlton Kendrick, EdM, who is based in Cambridge, Mass., agrees. He got his start using exercise and therapy when working with institutionalized and incarcerated patients in the early 1970s.

"When I got people walking on the grounds, listening to cows mooing and birds singing, having to avoid a rock in the road, engaged in a multi-sensory experience, the result was the patients were much more talkative and relaxed."

Walk and Talk Breakthroughs

Movement propels people forward -- literally and figuratively.

"Something changes when people warm to this [therapy]," Kendrick says. "They come in their body armor -- their suits -- and when they change their clothing and when they see me in my sweats and sneakers, they loosen up. The literal and metaphorical ability for them to move, to experience freedom and a lessened sense of confrontation, of 'being under the microscope,' that they may predictably feel in my or anyone's office setting.

"The comfort of a patient establishing his or her own rhythm is secure," he continues. "And it's a subtle bond -- we are in sync, we are on an adventure together. Being in nature takes [the session] out of my power base and into the streets and hills. It's much more of an equal turf and provides more parity."

Hays agrees. "At any point in psychotherapy where a patient is at something of an impasse or if a patient is alienated, those are situations I would be likely to offer this as a way through whatever is going on. A patient might be able to view a situation with more clarity, more insight, and make connections which she otherwise might not be able to because of the biochemical effects of being active."

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