Jumping down the rabbit hole… (a journey into ‘blogging’)

High views of West Hythe

Beginning at the beginning is often the best place to begin I find, and so I suppose, an introduction is probably in order. To paraphrase Bill Withers (1971), if you have found my site, ‘then you know my name is what my name is’, but in case you missed it, it’s Nick! I am a professional counsellor/therapist (take your pick) investigating, through experience and study, the world of outdoor therapy.

I began my therapeutic career in 2008 having signed up for an introductory course in counselling skills. I quickly realised that the work, theory, and the fellowship was something highly compatible with my soul, and I found myself facing one of life’s ‘no u-turn’ signs; I was hooked. I continued with my training (originally in integrative counselling) and qualified in 2012 following the completion of my supervised placement. Over the years, I have continued to reflect on my experience and found myself drawn to the work of the existential therapists. I loved the honesty, the diversity, and the free-flowing nature of the therapeutic frame that existential therapy offered, and it has both informed and bolstered the foundations of my own practice as a counselling professional. A perennial student, I also trained as a teacher in further education, achieving my DTLLS in 2015 and I have enjoyed a side career as a counselling trainer; work that connected me with an incredibly rewarding and interesting bunch of people. My time teaching has been highly influential in both my professional-therapeutic development, my personal growth, and my political stance. Eventually, I was drawn to the idea of working outdoors, being inspired by my own relatedness to nature, the literature that I was discovering, and a drive towards authenticity. In 2019, I enrolled as a postgraduate student and I am currently studying for an MA in counselling and psychotherapy practice at Bath Spa University. My research focuses on ecotherapy, outdoor counselling, and the amalgamation of my passions. 

I have been gradually moving my private practice outdoors and I have now reached the point of offering a near exclusively-outdoor-experience for people wanting to engage in therapy. Outdoor therapy comes in many different shapes and sizes, and my own work involves walking, sitting, breathing, and reflecting in as natural space as possible, acknowledging the relatedness between human beings and the beings with which we share in existence, and supporting people in living as authentic and meaningful a life as possible.

This is probably a good time to warn you all, I am highly influenced by existential thought and the existential-therapeutic paradigm (in particular, but certainly not limited to, existential-phenomenology). Being quite philosophical in my thinking, I will likely (and most probably frequently) fall into what Lewis Caroll (1865) referred to as ‘the rabbit hole’, where for me, the good stuff resides. For some readers, this will end our relationship, and that’s ok, for others, it will resonate as a gravitational force, inexorably drawing together the fragments of possibility and binding them to form new rabbit holes all of their own… if that’s you, you’re in good company!

The marriage of existential ideas with outdoor therapy, or ecotherapy, is far from new and there already exists a wonderful reflection of one in the other (eg. Jordan, 2015; Jordan & Hinds, 2016; Langley, 2020). For me, this is an obvious union, but no less exciting to see it realised within a professional context. Here follows a blog that will consist of essays and reflections, thoughts, and questions, all focusing on the development of my own ideas, experiences, and growth as a professional outdoor therapist.

I would like to end on an important note: that anything I write will be entirely separate from my work with clients, and will always remain highly respectful of their privacy and the trust that has been placed in me as their chosen therapist. I will only be writing about my own thoughts and ideas and will make no reference to my clinical work unless it is highly generalised and focuses exclusively on my own process. This blog will remain autoethnographic, focused, and respectful.

References

Caroll, L., 1865. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. London: Macmillan.

Jordan, M., 2015. Nature And Therapy. Hove: Routledge.

Jordan, M. and Hinds, J., 2016. Ecotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice. London: Palgrave.

Langley, N., 2020. A Thematic Comparison Between Psychotherapeutic Theory And The Ideas, Theory, And Concepts Of Applied Ecopsychology; Viewed Through The Experiential Lens Of Practice. Postgraduate. Bath Spa University.

Withers, B., 1971. Do It Good. [Vinyl] Hollywood: Sussex.