Walk & Talk Therapy

Walking in Nature

“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 therapy(2).

Benefits of Walking

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 benefits(3):

  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 benefits(4):

  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

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.

Walk With Me

Our WATT consists of approximately 45-60 minutes of walking at a comfortable pace. (This is not meant to be your cardio or HIT workout.) If you want to walk less or more, that’s up to you.

Towards the end of your WATT session, 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 (or river) and allow ourselves to be filled with nature’s healing energy.

WATT is not for everyone. Clearly, if you hate to walk, loathe being outdoors, or live too far away from this walk, WATT is not for you. In addition, the comfort of having a Zoom session in your home is always an option 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 on Zoom or another virtual platform. After that, we can start your WATT program.


  1. Higgins, R. (2017). Thoreau and the Language of Trees. University of California: Oakland.
  2. Martinsen, 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.
  6. Wessan, L. (2018). Walk and Talk Therapy: Moving Towards Wholeness. The Social Work Voice. Sept/Oct; 16-17.