Walk & Talk Outdoor Exposure Therapy
Walk and Talk Outdoor Exposure Therapy takes many different forms and is targeted to the child, their interests, and their goals. When we walk we are moving forward, and walk and talk is a metaphor for moving forward in life and reaching goals!
What is Walk & Talk Therapy?
Our clinic offers a unique and effective Walk and Talk Outdoor Exposure Therapy that is specifically designed for young people struggling with school attendance difficulties.
This is a therapy that involves walking outdoors and talking through problems, thoughts, and troubling emotions with a clinician. It is a therapeutic approach that combines physical activity, nature, and talk therapy to provide a unique and effective therapeutic experience.
During our Walk and Talk therapy sessions, clients have the opportunity to step outside of a typical therapy setting and engage in enjoyable outdoor activities. This can be anything from walking through the St Kilda Botanical gardens, flying drones, going to the skate park, or simply enjoying a stroll along the beach with our therapy dog Max.
Our clinicians are trained to incorporate a variety of evidence-based techniques into our walk and talk outdoor therapy sessions including cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), child focused parent support, graduated exposure therapy, animal assisted therapy, and mindfulness. By combining these techniques with the benefits of being outdoors and engaging in fun activities, we can provide a holistic and effective treatment approach for school refusal.
We also have a certified therapy dog called Max who accompanies clients during each session to provide comfort, affection, and companionship. Max helps our students to engage with the world around them, build confidence to try new things, and most importantly have fun!
Benefits of Walk & Talk
We have found this approach to be extremely beneficial for students with school attendance difficulties who need help in overcoming avoidance behaviours, connecting with the world around them, and reintegrating into school. Being outdoors can provide a calming and soothing environment that can help reduce anxiety and stress, which are often key factors in school refusal. Additionally, outdoor therapy can provide a sense of adventure and exploration that can be enjoyable for clients who are struggling with depression or low motivation. Walking and talking outside also creates a more comfortable space for young people to open up and discuss difficult or sensitive issues. By facing forward rather than maintaining eye contact in a face-to-face setting, this can reduce anxiety often felt by clients and allows students to talk more freely and easily.
What is involved?
At our clinic, we find that the best treatment outcomes arise when students are engaged and having fun. For this reason, we incorporate walk and talk, with fun outdoor activities like walking our therapy dog along the beach.
This is an individualised process that is targeted to the young person, their interests, and their goals. All methods are age/location/resource dependent and relevant to the student and their unique back-to-school plan. There are three main locations for our Walk & Talk sessions: St Kilda Botanical Gardens, St Kilda Marina Foreshore Reserve, and Peanut Farm Reserve. Graduated Exposure Techniques are also incorporated into the model, for students experiencing social and separation anxiety, and specific phobias.