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The Benefits of Walk and Talk Therapy


All therapy is process- sometimes a session can be charged with emotion and other times you have an aha moment that leads to a fit of giggles.  All of this is good.  But some people find it’s easier to navigate emotions and open up when they are moving their bodies.  Movement promotes neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to grow and change) and creative thinking. Some people naturally have more energy and want to dispel it through walking or hiking.  Others struggle with sitting still.  Walking side by side with your therapist may help you to express vulnerability-even more so than sitting across from your therapist.  Many clients have said WATT has enhanced the therapeutic relationship. Other benefits include:



 

Getting Unstuck-Nature has a wonderful way of helping people slow down and become comfortable.  When you are comfortable, it’s easier to confront difficult situations or issues.

 

Mindfulness- Being in nature allows you to observe the present moment and to appreciate what is in front of you.  Our lives are often busy and distracting.  When you practice being outdoors, and in the moment, it can be easier when you are being challenged by life’s overwhelm. 

 

The Connection to Mind and Body-The mind body connection is a crucial part of whole-body health.  When we are in our head, we can lose connection to our body.  Walking and talking helps with both the left and right sides of our brain promoting creativity, neural pathways, and stress reduction. It’s easier to recognize the feelings you may be having, which is important to distress tolerance and emotional regulation.

 

Move Your Body!- Moving your body promotes BDNF, Brain-derived Neurotropic Factor, a protein found in the brain and spinal cord.  BDNF has several important functions-all needed for a healthy brain. It helps neurons survive and grow, promotes neuroplasticity, modulates neurotransmitters, aids in creating better neural communication connections, and improves learning and memory.  And we know that moving your body is important for mental health.  It increases strength and stamina, improves sleep, reduces anxiety and depression, and increases your resilience to stress.  Though walk and talk therapy is not about an “exercise program”, it nonetheless has many rewards and health benefits.

 

Improved Mood and Energy-Have you ever felt down or had an argument with someone and needed to go for a walk to “clear your head” and when you come back, you felt better?

Movement like walking releases hormones like endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that promote energy, increased blood flow, and a happier mood.  Neurotransmitters such as serotonin (the feel-good NT) and dopamine (the reward NT) get a natural boost as well.

 

Boost in Creativity-All exercise and movement can foster creativity.  By relaxing and connecting to the moment, it’s easier to focus on your imagination.  Walking can help us process old ideas and explore new ones.  Research shows that the simple act of gesturing can facilitate new learning and evoke images for both the listener and the speaker.



One or two sessions can “mix it up” and make therapy interesting.  Therapy exercises that can’t be done in a room can be done outside in nature.  There are some minimal risks involved.  Therapists who do this type of therapy will talk to their clients about confidentiality and will minimize privacy risks, opting to choose locations that work for both client and therapist.  If this feels like something you want to try, contact us today!



Resources



Written by Jennifer Schwartz-Doctorovich, MS, LPC-Associate, FNTP, CFSP

Supervised by Tamara D. Allen Bush, LPC-S


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