hen you think about therapy, you assume that it addresses what goes on in the mind. After all, depression, anxiety, and trauma affect your mental health. But you’re a human, and you live in the vessel of your body. You can’t ignore your physical self as you’re working on your psychological wellness. Combining talk therapy with mindful movement allows you to address your problems holistically instead of just focusing on mental analysis and the chatter of your thoughts. That’s why many therapists are offering and encouraging Walk and Talk Therapy.
What Is Walk and Talk Therapy?
You probably have a specific image of what happens in therapy. You sit on a couch or another comfortable area while spewing your troubles to the therapist. Traditional therapy doesn’t involve much movement. Although the therapist may give you homework to do, which could involve getting some exercise, you don’t always get a chance to move your body in the office.
During walk and talk therapy, exercise is incorporated into the session. Instead of sitting face-to-face with your therapist, which can be stressful and make you feel as though you’re on the spot, you walk with your mental health professional. You discuss your issues as you go.
Have you ever gotten mentally stuck while trying to answer a hard question? Perhaps you were writing a paper or working on a project, and you became completely blocked. Maybe your therapist asked you something that brought up some resistance, and you just don’t know the solution.
When you’re in a standstill, getting out of the situation can help. It’s why you may have gotten epiphanies and genius ideas in the shower. You weren’t focusing on the problem at hand, which gave your brain some space to make new connections and find solutions. Going for a walk when you’re uninspired can ignite the same type of spark within you.
How Can Walk and Talk Therapy Help?
In “The Joy of Running,” author Thaddeus Kostrubala said that cadenced exercise can encourage self-discovery. But walk and talk therapy is not just about putting on your sneakers and breaking a sweat. Walk and talk therapy has several benefits.
Boosts Feel-Good Neurotransmitters
Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These brain chemicals improve your mood, appetite and sleep. Proper nutrition and healthy sleep habits are vital to your mental well-being. Improving those aspects of your life can do wonders for your psychological health.
But the mood boost that you get from a good walk is a direct benefit. You can often feel the energetic buzz that comes from exercise immediately.
Walking enhances your circulation. With more blood rushing to your brain, your mind works in different ways. The biochemical effects of exercise can help you think more clearly, make better decisions and come up with workable solutions. Incorporating walking into a therapy session can also help you make time for a healthy practice that you might otherwise avoid.
Takes the Pressure Off
Some people feel a lot of pressure when they’re sitting in silence during therapy. Much like a writer or artist staring at a blank sheet of paper, they may clam up and feel blocked from accessing the creative parts of their minds that can come up with solutions for their problems. Plus, the traditional face-to-face format of therapy can make patients feel inferior to the therapist.
On the other hand, when the mental health professional conducts therapy in casual clothes and running shoes, some of that social hierarchy is eliminated. Walking parallel with someone can remove some of the stress that comes from revealing secrets and working through difficult experiences.
It’s easier to think when no one is staring at you, or expecting an answer right away. You can take your time on your stroll, taking in the environment and focusing on your steps as you move forward physically and symbolically.
Takes Advantage of Nature’s Healing Power
Do you enjoy being outside? Does being out in nature calm you or make you feel alive? You’re not the only one who feels this way.
Nature has this effect on people. Spending time outdoors can reduce levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Studies show that being in nature can also relieve hypertension, depression, anxiety, and attention disorders.
Also, communing with nature inspires awe. This emotion can give you perspective. It allows you to increase your awareness of something greater than yourself. Walk and talk therapy can help you open your eyes to your place in this world, and allow you to give up some of the control or entitlement that so many people cling to.
What Does a Walk and Talk Therapy Session Look Like?
If you’re feeling depressed, stressed or unmotivated, the last thing you might want to do is exercise. You want to relax. You don’t feel like pushing yourself.
Walk and talk therapy sessions are customized to your needs, physical aptitude, and comfort level. Your therapist isn’t a personal trainer; your session won’t focus on your ability to walk quickly or improve your strength; rather it will just help you let loose and create the space to think, feel, and speak more freely
A walk and talk therapy session is more like taking a stroll in the park with a good friend. You don’t have to sweat or exert yourself. You’ll move at your own pace, and your therapist will follow your lead, guiding you through your therapy as you walk.
If you have a young child, you might be able to bring your little one with you in a stroller during the therapy session. At the Beverly Hills Therapy Group, you can even bring your dog.
Fortunately, the climate in Beverly Hills is conducive to walk and talk therapy. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we can always grab umbrellas or reschedule. Not only that, but the Beverly Hills neighborhood is quiet enough for you to still feel the privacy you value during your therapy session.
Is It Time to Get Moving?
We know that you lead a busy lifestyle, and it’s not always easy to make time for exercise and therapy. With walk and talk therapy, you can find time for both of these important practices.
When you walk as you talk, you move your body forward. This is also a metaphor for what happens with your mind. As you face obstacles and come across difficult decisions, you can use the momentum that you’ve found through this type of therapy to continue on life’s journey.
At The Beverly Hills Therapy Group, we offer several forms of holistic therapy. We would love to talk to you about the type of therapy that might be ideal for your needs. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you find inspiration, insight, and wellness.
Ron N. Gad, PhDFounder
Ron N. Gad, PhD is the founder of Beverly Hills Therapy Group in California. Dr. Gad holds a PhD in clinical psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Along with his staff of licensed therapist, Beverly Hills Therapy Group provides mental health services for many disorders including anxiety, trauma, depression, and several others.