Following lockdown and social distancing in 2020, I decided to adapt the ways I can offer therapeutic intervention. For some people, entering a formal counselling room can be really daunting and it can be a big step for someone to admit they need help, so the less traumatic an experience, the better. Some prefer to head outdoors, opting for either Garden Therapy (in my SummerHouse or Wooden Gazebo) or alternatively the Walk & Talk Woodland Therapy, walking in the fresh air, making the most of the beautiful countryside of North Wales. North Wales is an ideal location for woodland therapy, with its beautiful natural environment easily accessible and on our doorsteps. This is offered to longer term clients.
Shinrin-yoku, also known as forest bathing, is a well known relaxation and stress management in Japan, and therapeutic landscapes have been defined as places that deliver physical, social and psychological wellness benefits. Studies have suggested that walking among trees reduces levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. As we breathe in the phytoncides that the trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects, we get a boost to our immune system as these chemicals also help prevent people from contracting diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cerebrovascular disease, depression and hypertension. As studies have found that people with access to nearby nature are generally healthier than those without, it has been suggested that mental health is generally better in rural areas than urban areas.
Given that woodlands are restorative environments that can contribute to health and emotional well-being, it is no wonder people are beginning to encourage others to make regular visits to woodland and forest to improve mental health, self esteem and general well-being and happiness.
Woodland Walk & Talk Therapy is associated with creating an immediate sense of inner peace. We all have moments of anxiety, stress, worry and sadness, and given that there is strong scientific evidence that visiting a forest can improve mood and attention span, and even enhance psychological stress recovery, it makes sense for us to go and seek out the solace and serenity of our countryside, to give us a sense of security.
As research suggests walking in the woods and forests dramatically improves an individual’s sense of well-being, it, therefore, makes perfect sense for me as a Counsellor to offer this as part of my therapy sessions.