Hello, my name is Michael Batkin. Welcome to my web page about walking counselling in Stoke on Trent and Stone. Please also visit my home page where you can learn more about my approach and other specialist counselling interests.
At the beginning of the pandemic I decided to take my practise outdoors, and started walking counselling in Stoke on Trent and Stone. Initially this was to reduce risk of contracting covid for both myself and my clients. Ultimately however, I came to see far more benefits than virus risk reduction.
The four walls of the counselling room can feel like inhibitory boundaries for some. Often people experience an increased sense of freedom when moving away from the confinement of the room. I notice that this freedom translates into a freedom of expression in an open space.
I use big open spaces to work in so that confidentiality is no issue. These spaces also have a number of benches if you want to sit, or to walk and talk if this is your preference. People may choose to mix sessions up incorporating both walking and sitting.
During counselling, I will endeavour to metaphorically ‘hold’ you during your work, particularly during your vulnerability, helping to keep you safe. The backdrop of nature can also give a sense of feeling held by the grounding nature of the outdoors.
To walk side by side, and embrace the rhythmic action of moving through space, can really help to dissolve tension. This is so important when talking about your difficult experiences and situations, and also when expressing big feelings in the vastness of the outdoors. There is something dualistic and synergistic about connecting to nature, as we simultaneously connect to ourselves.
The bilateral action of walking helps both hemispheres of our brain to be engaged during session. When working with difficult or traumatic memories, the nervous system becomes activated which leaves us less able to access the thinking part of the brain. left, right movement in the body (i.e. walking) can help our thinking brain to be engaged again. This allows words to express, understand and process our experiences. The movement in the body also takes people away from immobilisation, a freeze response that can happen in trauma. This helps to move away from a powerless shutdown response and into a more empowered mobilised response, allowing better access to trauma feelings that need to be expressed.
Embracing all weather conditions can help with resilience building. Learning to weather the storm in therapy, with regard to both the elements and emotional stormy weather that you may bring, can be good training and set a blueprint for future resilience. I will always be available for the session regardless of the weather conditions.
When walking the natural inclination is to mostly look ahead. Initially not having face to face contact with the therapist can be helpful when talking through events from your life that you feel ashamed about. As the potency of your shame begins to dissolve, looking over for increased eye contact may organically happen.
Summary of the Benefits of Walking Counselling in Stoke on Trent and Stone
- Being in nature has a calming effect on our nervous system, helping people to relax into what they need to talk about.
- Fresh air, natural light and gentle exercise, promote a sense of well-being.
- Taking notice of the environment can support being present. Tuning in to the sights, smells and touch of the wind, rain or sun.
- Walking side by side can feel less intimidating than the face-to-face gaze of the counselling room.
- For the therapist a lot of information can be taken from the client’s pace and posture.
- Noticing the changing of the seasons, the moodiness or happiness of the weather, can be used as a helpful metaphor in the work.
- Resilience can be strengthened by working through the variety of elements, particularly when the weather feels uncomfortable.
If you are interested in walking counselling in Stoke on Trent and Stone and would like to reach me, please go to my contact page
If you would like to read more about walking therapy follow this link: https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/memberarticles/have-you-heard-about-walk-talk-therapy