Walk and Talk Coaching is a popular way of working for many therapists and coaches and something I am fortunate enough to be able to offer my clients.
As I continue to embrace my journey toward becoming a Chartered Coaching Psychologist, I explore some of the associated benefits of taking my work into the great outdoors.
The positive impact of nature on our health and wellbeing has been documented for many years. Being outside in the fresh air allows us to really take in our surroundings, to focus on the beauty of our environment and appreciate Mother Nature in all her glory. So many of us report feeling less stressed when we are surrounded by nature and we naturally benefit from exposure to vitamin D as we bask in the sunlight.
Being enveloped by nature often enables a deeper understanding of our evolutionary role on this earth and the freedom to express that more easily. Distractions from the natural flow of conversation, for example, birdsong or blowing leaves, are viewed as welcome and positive – a stark contrast to the rude interruption of a buzzing phone or heavy boots on an adjacent staircase.
Not unexpectedly, the office environment and the clinical setting of a face to face meeting can be intimidating for some. There is an expectation to engage using eye contact and analysing body language is unavoidable. Walking alongside each other allows the client more freedom, the space to engage with their therapist that might feel more comforting. Sharing a walk and a connection to the outdoors strengthens the relationship in a way that promotes equality.
Many coaches recall that clients seem to find it easier to talk about difficult subjects outdoor setting and that dialogue flows more easily. There is less forced eye contact and a sense of acceptance that you are embarking on your journey that day together.
A different way of thinking
Interacting with and being aware of our environment allows us to use it to explore different themes. One of my clients used the metaphor of a flowing river to explain how he was swept away in his current circumstances. Other times I have explored the cyclical nature of plants and flowers to emphasise and normalise the changing patterns of our daily lives.
I find that reference to nature seems to allow a greater opportunity to gain perspective on the natural ebb and flow of life. Pointing to a fallen tree in our path and asking a client how they will tackle the challenge it presents, whilst using it as a metaphor for daily life. Clinical and theoretical language are often replaced by references to the natural world and an acknowledgment of how fleeting our time on earth is. I find this encourages clients to find optimism and spurs them on to make the changes they want to enable them to live the fulfilling life they are looking for.
Exercise is good for us
This might seem obvious but we know that walking lowers our blood pressure and increases our heart rate and energy levels.
Exercise also releases endorphins, the body’s own mechanism for managing stress and pain. Endorphins have been proven to promote optimism which is extremely useful during a coaching session because it encourages a mindset more focused on finding solutions.
We know that just 10 minutes brisk walking a day can increase our mood and reduce stress and anxiety. And for many of us, it means we can simply be in the moment. We are focusing on our movements, without care or judgment, and are released from the uncertainty that often holds us back from deeper exploration and understanding.
There are so many benefits to engaging with nature, for both client and practitioner. Whilst traditional office-based coaching and therapy will always remain important, it feels refreshing for me to explore new ways of working alongside clients in the natural world.
As Albert Einstein once said, “Look deep into nature & you will understand everything better”.
If you are keen to find out more about Walk and Talk Coaching or would like to book a free consultation to explore this together, please contact me at email@example.com.