Outdoor Therapy

My approach

I originally trained as an integrative therapist and as most therapists do, I have been refining my approach ever since.

I have two passions: being outdoors & existential philosphy, both of which hugely inform my work as a theapist. In a nutshell, I offer a synthesis of existential and eco-based therapies. Being existentially informed, I am interested in the way that we (humans) make sense of our life, take responsibility for our place in the world, and how we can come to terms with things outside of our power to change. Outdoor work compliments this wonderfully and helps to foster a sense of connection and belonging; it can also recapture the childlike joy of being in nature.

Working alongside nature, I tend to focus on your choices, your possibilities (and sometimes impossibilities), the tensions that you experience, and the anxiety that arises from those tensions. I aim to support you in building as rich, meaningful, and authentic a life as you possibly can and as a general rule, we will focus as much on the storyteller (that’s you!) as we will the story.

Some people are looking for a directive experience in therapy (solutions, techniques, and exercises, etc.) however, generally speaking, I don’t work in this way. I instead opt for a gentle and supportive investigation in the ‘thrownness’¹ of ‘Being’ to help you discover new perspectives and develop a greater understanding of self. No diagnosis or pathologising, just simple curiosity and reflection in a confidential, supportive, boundaried, non-judgemental space.

seth-doyle-43138Whilst not especially common in the UK (yet), outdoor therapy has, of late, been increasing in popularity. People choose outdoor sessions for a variety of reasons: some people like being side-by-side, avoiding the intensity of a face to face work. Some people find that it’s easier to process whilst moving and others simply enjoy the fresh air and the susurrus of leaves being tickled by the wind.

¹ Thrownness: A term that Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) used to describe the realisation (and feelings) that we associate with being ‘thrown’ into the world.

Great for people who…

    • Enjoy and feel revitalised by Being in and with the outdoors
    • Need movement to think and process (kinesthetic learning preference)
    • Find the ‘face-to-face’ style of counselling a little uncomfortable, and would prefer the less direct ‘side-by-side’ approach
    • Want to (or already do) feel connected with their environment, in a deep and meaningful sense

Who I work with

I work with both adults and young people, and I am happy to offer my Counselling service to anyone of 16 years or older. Please note that if you are under 18, I will require a parent or legal guardian to sign a consent form.

I would recommend that client’s under the age of 16 seek support from a therapist trained in working with young people; a professional therapist will take no issue with being asked about their qualifications!

Things to consider

Due to the deep, reflective nature of my work, I might not be immediately suitable for:

    • People looking for a directive therapist (eg. coping techniques & strategies)

Having said that, I am always happy to meet and discuss your hopes for the work, so please feel free to get in touch with me.

Outdoor or nature-based therapy (often termed ‘ecotherapy’) is a diverse way of working in its own right and includes many activities such as walking therapy, horticultural therapy, wilderness emersion, animal-assisted therapy (eg. therapy dogs; equine-facilitated therapy).

It is helpful to understand some of the defining features of outdoor-focused therapy and to be able to distinguish between ‘outdoor-therapy‘ and ‘therapy-outdoors‘:

Outdoor therapy – Outdoor therapy is a way of working that not only recognises the benefits of natural space but considers that ‘space’ as a party to the work. The therapist recognises their limitations and makes room (and often encourages) connection with the natural world. Nature, therefore, is far more than a backdrop, but a fundamental element of the therapeutic process. Outdoor therapists are influenced by the school of ecopsychology as well as compatible therapeutic models.

Therapy outdoors – Some therapists choose to work outdoors, either walking or sitting with their clients. The work is not necessarily informed by the human-nature connection and whilst it certainly benefits from the passive influence of a natural environment, it is fundamentally and theoretically based on existing, contemporary models of counselling and psychotherapy.

If you are working towards a qualification in Counselling (usually a Level 4 Diploma) I would be more than happy to work with you and have a lot of experience supporting Trainees.

As well as my experience of working with a wide and diverse client base, I am also a qualified teacher with many years of experience in facilitating both the level 3 and 4 counselling courses.

I have a good working knowledge of the course requirements, the demands placed on learners at the various stages of the training, and I am happy to draw on the theory that you are learning as a way of enhancing your understanding of self.

My fees:

A bespoke arrangement

Whatever arrangement we initially agree on, there is always the option to change over to more/less frequent sessions, longer/shorter walks.

Initial session (Up to 1 hour) – £30

An initial session to get to know each other, start thinking about how we will work, and what you would like from the sessions. It’s also an opportunity to ask any questions and to decide if I’m the right therapist for you; this is really important!

The Walks:

Standard Session (1hr) – £45

A circular walk that takes approximately 1hr, with an opportunity to pause, sit, and reflect where it feels necessary. (approximately 3.38Km / 2.1 mi) This is route is often chosen by clients who want regular weekly contact and/or would struggle to find the time for a longer walk.

Extended Session (1hr 30 min) – £60

A decent walk along the Royal Military canal that takes us a little further away from the hustle and bustle.

We can also walk along the seafront, which is a little less private, but just as beautiful. (7.3Km / 4.54 mi)

Full Session (2 hours) – £ 80

This is the longest walk that I offer and takes about 2 hours. It provides plenty of opportunities to reflect on your life, in-depth.

This session isn’t along a set route, but is structured as a ‘there and back again’ walk, and provides the most freedom; we will go where our feet take us and retrace our steps after an hour.

This is a popular route for those who want less-frequent or ad-hoc sessions.

High views of West Hythe

As I offer outdoor therapy, I will highlight some of the differences that you should expect when considering this way of working and try to anticipate some of the questions that you might have.

I would like to briefly note that this is MY way of working and is not a general representation of outdoor therapy; and also that I highly value the diversity found within the eco-therapeutic community, and in therapy in general!

Outdoor sessions are professional and boundaried, however, it is very difficult to manage time in the same way that we would if we were indoors in a static environment: sometimes we will walk fast, sometimes slow; sometimes we stop for a bit, and other times we’ll stomp our way through the entire session! For this reason, session length is approximate and can differ slightly from one session to the next, however, we will generally aim for a 60 minute round trip (unless you request a longer session).

I would strongly advise the use of sensible footwear! You don’t have to go ‘pro’, but 50 minutes walking in work shoes can be a little uncomfortable; this is, however, a suggestion and not a requirement.

Depending on the time of year, it can get a little muddy.

This is in no way a boot camp style training session! The focus is on Therapy, and not the exercise (that’s just an added bonus).

We will walk at your pace and there are places to rest along the way.

If you would like an extended session, but feel unable to walk the extra distance, I would be happy to offer the standard walk with a 20 minute stop at the half-way point.

A good question! The idea behind the walking session is to ‘get away from it all’ and therefore there are no toilets available on the route.

There are public toilets available in Hythe, so I advise that you make use of this before we head out; I have made the mistake of drinking a large coffee and then going for a long walk, so I speak from experience!

If you’re happy with the rain, then so am I!

In fact, different weather can bring out different feelings and can really help the process. If it really is too much to go out in, we will use my room in Hythe or reschedule.

It’s an inescapable fact that during Walking Therapy, we may bump into other people, usually people walking their dogs. This doesn’t happen very often and most people just smile and walk past, but you should take it into consideration before engaging in the session. We will discuss this and other things during the initial meeting, and decide between us how this should be managed.

No pressure at all, we can use my traditional indoor space instead.

Please note: During the COVID-19 Pandemic, I am offering telephone/video conferencing as an alternative as my indoor space is unsuited to social distancing.

Absolutely not: I offer my walking sessions using the same fee scale as indoor sessions.

Payment can be made via bacs, or if you prefer I can take a card/cash payment. (reciepts available via email)

I’m happy to offer walking therapy to anyone over the age of 16, however, if you are under 18, I will need a consent form signed by a parent or legal guardian.

I love being outdoors, however, I recognise that at times, an indoor session is more suitable. If needs must, I have a bespoke therapy space that we can use.