What is outdoor therapy?

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.

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.

My Therapy Services section contains more information on where I practice counselling outdoors and why you might choose this type of therapy.

Preparing for a phone or video counselling session

Having a counselling session on the phone or online will feel very different to coming in to see someone face to face. Rest assured, many therapists work in this way and it’s still possible to have meaningful sessions together even if you’re not in the same room as your counsellor.

I’ve put together this list below with some things to think about before your first phone or video session.

  • How will you protect your confidentiality? This is one of the most important considerations. You will need to find a quiet, confidential place for your sessions where you feel safe to talk freely and are free from interruptions or the fear of being overheard. If you are going to be at home, you may need to consider how you let other members of the household know that you do not wish to be disturbed.  Sitting in your parked car is a great option if your house is busy. You could even have a telephone session whilst walking in the park or sitting in the garden (weather permitting!).
  • Do you have a good connection? Video counselling requires a strong and reliable connection. If you are using WiFi make sure you have a decent signal. If you’re opting for telephone counselling and using your mobile, make sure you have a good signal and that your battery is charged!
  • What device will you use for video? I use a piece of software called Zoom for video calls and I use this on my laptop.  I would recommend a laptop, desktop computer or tablet if you have one so that you can see your counsellor on a good sized screen. It’s possible to use a mobile too if necessary.
  • Do you have a headset/headphones or earphones to use for video calls? This helps to protect your confidentiality and also makes it easier to hear your counsellor clearly. If you have them I would suggest using them. 
  • Does your webcam work for video calls? Make sure to check your webcam is working so that you can see your counsellor clearly during the session. If you don’t have a webcam then having a session over the phone might be more suitable.

Getting started on the day

  • Get yourself ready 5-10 minutes before. This gives you time to make sure your technology is working. Get yourself comfy, take a few deep breaths and settle in to the moment.
  • What if we have technical issues or are disconnected ? This can raise anxiety if it happens, especially if you are in the middle of sharing something important. Be sure to discuss a back up plan with your counsellor so that you know what to do if this happens.

If you have any questions about phone or video counselling or are interested in booking a session please do get in touch.

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