Most traditional therapy sessions take place indoors, usually in an office setting. In the last two years, therapists have ventured into the online world, addressing client’s issues remotely with virtual therapy during the experiences of the global pandemic.
In response, another option has become increasingly popular for both practical and logistical reasons: outdoor or hiking therapy. By combining traditional therapy with the restorative effects of nature, mental health providers are able to offer a safe yet powerful process out in nature. Despite challenges such as maintaining confidentiality and the lack of a boundaried space, many therapists have been doing this for years. The practice has simply grown as both patients and providers discover the therapeutic benefits of walking, talking or hiking together outside.
Outdoor and hiking therapy is more than just taking a pleasant stroll through the park and giving people a scenic backdrop in which to tackle their problems. Nature therapy can tell you a lot about someone. Compared to a traditional indoor setting, there’s something more freeing about being in a natural environment, and seeing how you respond can provide meaningful insights into your own mental state. Outdoor therapy also lets individuals go deeper than they might otherwise to explore the root of their issues. Studies show that feeling connected to nature can significantly reduce negative thoughts and behaviors, making it easier to open up and process what you’re going through.
That’s why outdoor therapy works so well for so many people. When walking or hiking with a therapist instead of sitting across from them in a stuffy room, people tend to feel safer and less focused on what they’re “supposed” to do or say. Nature provides a neutral space, and by utilizing aspects of the surrounding environment that resonate most with clients – whether it be the trees, mountains or water – therapists can help them better identify and discharge difficult emotions like fear or anxiety.
The act of movement is also a key component of outdoor therapy. The pace, path or direction that you choose offers additional clues into their state of mind, while the fresh air and exercise can boost their overall mood. Being active can also combat the feeling of being “stuck” in recovery and bring back a renewed sense of hope and progress.
Nature doesn’t have to be total wilderness, mountains or forests, and outdoor therapy isn’t only for clients who live in a rural setting. Those in urban areas can also access the healing power of nature by going to public parks, gardens or landscapes found in the city. Regardless of where you live, what matters most is that you find a place where you can deepen your connection to yourself and the natural world. Daily life can feel hectic in the concrete jungle, but immersing ourselves in green, open spaces can help remind us what makes us happy and lend a sense of beauty, awe and meaning to our lives.
Road to Wellness therapy is proud to provide you with the option to take your therapy outdoors. For more information, reach out to us to schedule your consultation.