Being outdoors can be a mindful and grounding experience. We can’t help but feel the sun or rain on our skin, the wind in our face and the ground beneath our feet. The act of moving through an outdoor space can remind us of our connection to the natural world as well as our place within a much larger picture.
For me, therapy is about observation. Observing ourselves and noticing what makes us tick, exploring our motivation, and the values we strive for, in more depth. By taking therapy outdoors we are gifted with a natural backdrop of change and renewal. Landscapes rarely look the same from one day to the next. Our internal landscape is also constantly changing and in motion.
With careful and compassionate observation we can notice what gets in our way and what patterns we want to let go of. We can begin to create our own change and renewal. We find ourselves reflected in the environment around us.
Of course nature is rich with metaphor and finding a way to conceptualise our internal struggles can often be a useful tool. Outdoor therapy is open to engaging with nature in a variety of ways and different therapists will be more or less directive in terms of involving the environment more explicity in the therapy.
My approach often begins by simply walking and talking, noticing our surroundings and experiencing the flow of thoughts and feelings that movement can provide. Over time our relationship with the outdoors and with each other can deepen as we build trust and work collaboratively to shape the sessions in a way that works best for you. We may take more time to stop, to sit or to connect with the environment around us.
Outdoor therapy can also present challenges that wouldn’t occur in a traditional therapy setting. We might encounter bad weather, obstacles, mud, ice, other people or animals. An ability to adapt and respond to the unexpected when working outdoors is something we navigate together each time we set out. These challenges can also become great opportunities for learning and growth.