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Health & Balance

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Walk and Talk Therapy

Exercise is good for the body and the mind. It may improve psychotherapy sessions, too.

Walk and Talk Breakthroughs continued...

Debbie, one of Cockrell's patients, says she tried standard therapy in the past but praises the benefits of walk and talk.

"In my experience," she tells WebMD, "taking four walls out of the equation helped me open up and feel more comfortable. He plans the route perfectly; all I have to do is follow his lead, which allows me to get lost in my thoughts and emotions and really work it out without thinking of the ticking clock," says Debbie who asked that only her first name be used. "It allows me to open up more than I would have sitting in a room staring at someone. Also since my blood is pumping, I'm more open to new ideas, my brain is working in a different way."

Walk and Talk Therapy: Is It Right for You?

Numerous scientific studies have shown the positive effects of exercise on the brain, especially for people with depression.

Brooks-Fincher says that depressed patients often "turn a corner" when using this practice.

Additionally, anxious or grief-stricken patients are also well served by walk and talk psychotherapy. "Because grief can be so totally consuming and feel so heavy, having the counterpoint of being outdoors and accomplishing something positive for one's health can provide a sense of aliveness."

She also says that relationship conflicts are where "light bulbs really go on in terms of having a different perspective. In an outdoor setting, [patients] are more receptive to feedback from the therapist."

Kendrick agrees. "Clients who are feeling trapped in a relationship or a job, or who are pretending to be somebody they are not will feel a sense of freedom" with walk and talk therapy." Hays adds that domestic abuse patients may also benefit by "being able to frame things more positively."

Cockrell has also found walk and talk to be especially good for his male patients.

"I have a theory that men have difficulty with eye contact in the office, chair to chair, knee to knee, revealing very private and possibly painful things," he tells WebMD. "Walking side-by-side can help a man become vulnerable."

In addition, he says substance abusers can benefit from walk and talk movement.

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