Outdoor Psychotherapy

“When despair for the world grows in me
And I wake in the night at the least sound
In fear of what my life and my children’s lives might be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
Rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
Who do not tax their lives with forethought
Of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day blind stars
Waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
(The Peace of Wild Things   Wendell Barry)

 

I experience being outdoors in the natural environments as being life-giving and healing, and I find that this is true for many clients in therapy.  I am lucky to work in an area which has many outdoors spaces suitable for therapy, and I can offer clients the freedom to work in areas of mountain, beach or forest.

It is a common assumption that psychotherapy happens indoors, yet some people work best in outdoor spaces and find them less threatening and more conducive to talking freely.  Being outdoors can help empower the client as the space is not personally owned.  The effect of darkening skies, unexpected shower, and a blast of wind, warm sunshine, and the touch of water on our feet, the support of a tree at our back, the sensation of lying in luscious grass all can enhance the therapeutic process.

Before working outdoors, an initial meeting with the client is held indoors, and a format of working outdoors is drawn up.  This can include the issues of privacy and weather.