WALK AND TALK THERAPY (WATT)
with Lisa Wessan MSW, LICSW

Swan11
The view from our bench...

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”   ~ John Muir

 

 

 

Henry David Thoreau struggled with melancholia, what we would call depression and anxiety today. Being in nature helped him to heal and recover from his malaise.  According to Thoreau researcher Richard Higgins, "Trees were his allies in his battle with melancholia."1 

 

There is growing evidence that exercise interventions are associated with significant benefits for patients who struggle with depression, mood disorders, anxiety, addictions and obsessions. These findings have led to more evidence that exercise may serve as an alternative or a supplement to traditional forms of therapy2.

 

Both personally and professionally I have also come to believe that walking in nature has powerful and restorative healing effects, and for those who are able to participate there are excellent benefits:

 

Mental health benefits3: 


1)  Increased confidence, more frequent feelings of tranquility, and a heightened sense of self-discovery.


2)  A sense of well-being and happiness.

 

3)  A heightened sense of presence.

 

4)  Decreased states of aggression.

 

5)  Reduced anxiety and depression.

 

 

Cognitive benefits4:


1)  Increased intellectual functioning, improved memory and enhanced resilience from stressful encounters.


2)  More strength and stamina to focus and reflect on one's life problems.

 

 

"When I walk in the woods, my mind becomes unclutched..." 

 

...says one of my friends when we go hiking. Being in nature and allowing your mind to relax helps to create a positive environment to safely defrost difficult thoughts and feelings.5

 

 

Kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland

"Forest Bathing" is a well known Japanese practice for managing stress and connecting with Nature.

 

 

Walk and Talk Therapy  is not new...thought leaders such as psychiatrists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud often took their patients out for long walks as part of  "the cure."  For today, we keep our walks within the therapy hour.

 

More recently, Steve Jobs, co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc.  was known to insist on conducting his one on one meetings on walks. He always preferred walking to get the ideas going. Jobs knew that our brains work at a much higher capacity and provide peak performance when we walk and talk.

 

Our WATT consists of approximately 35-40 minutes of walking at a comfortable pace, followed by 10-15 minutes reserved at the end for sitting on a lovely bench overlooking a beautiful lake. If you want to walk less or more, that's up to you.

 

During this time we review and summarize what you were sharing on the walk, and then contemplate your solution-focused next steps while we gaze out at the lake and allow ourselves to be filled with nature's healing energy.

 

WATT is not for everyone...clearly if you hate to walk, or loathe being outdoors, or live too far away from this walk,  WATT is not for you (unless you want to practice your DBT Skill of Opposite Action!)

 

In addition, the comforts of my office in Westford, MA,  remain available at any time should you change your mind. 

 

If you are a current client and would like to experiment and try a WATT session, just let me know. 

 

If you are new, we will have our first two initial consultations in my office.  After that, we can start your WATT program. Click HERE to request a free introductory phone call and explore the possibility.

LW Singing in woods

 

 

FAQs for WATT

 

Q: Why are the first two WATT sessions held in your office? 
A.  The initial therapy consultations require more clinical questions, writing, paperwork and detail to your medical history. After that, I have a small writing pad with me and can jot down some notes if needed.

 

Q. What hours are available for WATT?
A. Monday thru Friday, 7 AM - 11 AM.
Sometimes Saturday mornings are available too, 7 AM - 11 AM.

 

Q: Where is this walk held?
A:  WATT is available in Westford, Chelmsford, Lowell and Nashua. All locations are beside  rivers or lakes, and include easy access to clean bathrooms. The address and directions will be sent to you after we have spoken.

 

Q: Approximately how far do we walk?
A.  Walking at your pace, we complete approximately two miles, depending on your speed and comfort level. We can walk more or less, as you prefer.

 

Q: Is this a hilly walk, or flat?
A.  It is mostly flat and simple. (If you are an experienced hiker, we could arrange to meet on a trail nearby.)

 

Q: What happens if it rains?

A:  We meet in my office.

 

 

Q: How do I get started?
A. If WATT sounds like a good fit for you, here are your next steps:
1.  Click HERE to complete the introductory form and request the WATT program.

2.. If new to my practice, complete the therapy registration forms and the WATT Waiver that I will send you after we have spoken. Then we can schedule your initial consultation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

---------------------------------------------------------

References:

1.  Higgins, R. (2017). Thoreau and the Language of Trees. University of California: Oakland.

2. E.W. (2008). Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry. Vol. 62; 25-29.

3. Hays, K.F. (1999). Working It Out: Using Exercise in Psychotherapy. American Psychological Association: Washington, DC.

4. Macpherson, H. et al (2017). A life-long approach to physical activity for brain health.  Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. May 23;9:147.

5. The Week (July 17, 2015). Nature's Cure for Anxiety.

 

 

 

LW WATT

Being in nature deepens my contact with the Numinous...and feeling part of the Oneness.

 

 

 

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2017.
All rights reserved.

 

 

www.LisaWessan.com    Return to Home page.
counselling, exercise, therapy, wellbeingEileen Wise

counselling, exercise, therapy, wellbeing

Eileen Wise

counselling, exercise, therapy, wellbeing