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Taking therapy outside benefits patients and therapists

22 January 2020

Talking therapy sessions held outdoors in natural settings can be more beneficial than those held inside.

That is the finding of research by chartered psychologist Dr Sam Cooley being presented today at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology in Solihull.

Dr Sam Cooley, from the University of Leicester, said:

“Talking therapy is an established and effective form of support for a range of mental health difficulties, but it appears the four walls of the therapy room aren’t always the most effective place for it.”

The researchers conducted a review of 38 previous pieces of research into outdoor therapy published since 1994, which involved 322 therapists and 163 patients.

They found that therapy conducted outdoors benefited from providing patients with increased freedom to express themselves, and created a greater connection between therapist, patient and the natural world.

It also provided benefits for therapists themselves, with wellbeing increasing when conducting therapy sessions outdoors.

The therapists included clinical psychologists, counselling psychologists, counsellors and psychodynamic psychotherapists.

Dr Sam Cooley added:

“Outdoor therapy can provide an alternative approach with real benefits for both clients and therapists.

The option of outdoor therapy should be included in more training curriculums and formalised to provide genuine choice to clients when the circumstances are right for it.”

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