‘Walk and Talk’ Might Be the Future of Therapy
Will more people start walking with their therapists?
If you’ve ever taken a long walk with a close friend and talked about difficult personal problems, you get the gist of “walk and talk” therapy.
Denice Clark, PhD, a therapist based in Atlanta, has been providing walk-and-talk therapy professionally since 2015. She’s well known as Dr. Walk and Talk (her company is called Sole to Soul Therapy), and a few months after the pandemic hit, therapists started contacting her about how best to offer this kind of therapy to their clients. “Therapists and clients alike are getting tired of online therapy,” she says, “so walk-and-talk seems to be the one way they can meet in person while feeling safe in the midst of the pandemic.”
It makes sense that this type of therapy is on the rise: There’s strong evidence that spending time with other people outdoors is relatively safe, plus research shows that eye contact can increase anxiety levels, which suggests that walking side by side with a therapist (with masks and appropriate distancing, of course) could feel more comfortable for some folks.
Thanks to months of isolation, record-breaking unemployment rates, and the absurdity of a death toll that keeps on going unchecked, the mental health fallout of Covid-19 has been and will continue to be huge. “The virus and the kinds of stresses it creates have complicated the reasons why people have decided to come to therapy at this point in time,” Clark says. Though it’s never the only reason, she thinks that what really puts people over the edge, and what might ultimately drive them to seek therapy for good, is when pandemic life starts affecting their relationship, their work, or simply their ability to function on a daily basis. As they look for therapeutic ways to feel better in a world where a pandemic has upended their livelihoods, people realize that they need their lives to be, quite literally, a walk in the park again.
“I’ve had people beginning therapy from their cars, or in a basement, or in a bathroom because it’s the only space in which they can have privacy, or they will drive in their car and go to the…