Thursday, 30 May 2013
It’s evening on May the 16th. I’ve had a busy day, leafletting my local neighbourhood about Walk and Talk therapy. It’s in the quiet time of the day I can reflect how far I have journeyed. An estimate of the round trip, I have probably travelled 4 miles, Lee-Blackheath-Hither Green. Through my walks I am starting to develop a deeper understanding of the area.
Freud’s Dangerous Method
I want to use this space to enlighten the journey of walking therapy. It started I believe with Freud – one of the forefathers of Counselling and Psychotherapy. It has been well documented that Freud used alternative methods to interact with clients. He would use hypnotism to relieve clients of their distress and on occasion go for walks with clients. The development of having clients lie on a couch was something Freud found useful when working with clients related to clients being immersed in something other than the room. Disassociation became something he found useful for clients to fully open up, drop guards and defenses.
Collaboration whilst walking
Walking Therapy I believe does something similar, as a client starts to pick their way with a guide, the relationship established due to the motion and the action of walking becomes one of collaboration. Traditionally clients and their counsellors sit at a distance to one another. Their chairs are faced in just off oppositional positions to each other. The room will usually be furnished in a low key non threatening manner. There may be a picture or 2 on the walls, framed certificates somewhere in the room and a partially hidden time device. (To keep sessions to time)
Looking for some creativity to my own practice I imagined another way I could work that might inject something new to the counselling process. Walk and Talk Therapy was born. I haven’t looked back since. Excuse the pun (humour and analogy another way to be creative in therapy examined in On Being a Therapist Jeffrey Kottler).
I have run 2 successful trials with 2 different individuals over the past 2 months and their responses have been hugely positive.
“Walking and talking is a tranquil activity as it combines movement with introspection”
“You can’t help but be in the moment! Each step you have to be aware of, and that keeps you in the now”, another useful comment.
I have enjoyed how the environment has enabled conversation and inspiration to bubble up and be accessed. Even when in a quiet lull in conversation, the effect of walking in beautiful areas around Lee and Blackheath has meant that something ‘other’ is being accessed and it is when this is brought back into the conversation the reflective quiet’s findings are always surprising and useful.
Cover photo by Michael Opoku-Forfieh