You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.
You are not a stranger here.'
My work with clients in the outdoors connects psychotherapeutic ideas with those from environmental psychology,and ecopsychology, which focus on our interaction with our environment. Psychotherapy outside builds upon our experience of breathing, moving, and being in the natural world; developing a pathway for understanding and making changes to our inner world.
Originally my interest in outdoor psychotherapy developed from an experience as a participant on a Wilderness Immersion trip on Skye in 2007. Since then I (along with my colleague Martin Jordan), have developed a pioneering psychotherapeutic approach incorporating the natural environment.
My Outdoor Therapeutic Space
As I am based in the Peak District, I see individuals for ongoing weekly psychotherapy in a nearby area of access land on the outskirts of Buxton town (see photograph below and in the side panel) This piece of land offers a good deal of variety for the work, including a large mixed woodland; the possibility to walk up onto the 'edge' to gain far reaching views across the landscape; several large streams and waterfalls; ponds and a small nature reserve; and some open moorland.
Although there is public access here it is not over-run with people, and there are ample opportunities to get off the track in order to walk and sit in more private spaces.
I work outdoors with individuals for the therapy hour, or for longer sessions by negotiation. The therapy can take the form of simply walking and talking and/or using more focused awareness exercises. We may decide to sit in a particular spot for the entire therapy or vary our route a little from session to session. There is potential for a great deal of flexibility here, governed by client preference and weather!
However, all the traditional boundaries for effective psychotherapy will still apply, including a mutually agreed focus for our work and agreements concerning confidentiality. The latter, particularly important, as we may occasionally encounter other people whilst outside.
You do not need to be 'super fit' or even particularly outdoors-orientated to benefit from this setting for your therapy.