A WOKING psychotherapist is using the countryside around the town for outdoor “walking and talking” counselling sessions, which brings multiple benefits.
Be Cortade discovered the benefits of outdoor therapy when she found that walking along the El Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) in France and Spain cured her of longterm depression a few years ago.
Be researched walking therapy and also trained as a psychotherapist.
“I discovered that the combination of talking, walking and being in nature was more beneficial than the sum of those things,” she said.
Be said that one of the many advantages of walking therapy was that it removed the problem of having to face someone and talk about difficult issues.
“Eye contact can be difficult for some people in these circumstances, but here we are walking side by side.”
Walking has particular benefits as it “activates specific neurons that makes thinking more lateral and allows for more creative solutions to problems.”
Be has found a route at Newlands Corner, near Guildford, that is ideal as the walk takes about an hour and includes woodland and open spaces.
She also uses commons around Woking and the Basingstoke canal towpath.
“I have to negotiate with clients about how we will approach things because the issue of confidentiality is different when you are not in a room.
“For instance, if we encounter other people, should we stop talking or engage in general conversation?”
Be, who lives in Old Woking with husband Guillaume and has three teenage sons, is a member of the National Trust and has permission to use NT properties for walking therapy. Many of these have few visitors during week days.
Be was born in France and left in her early 20s. She has been living in Woking for eight years after spells in the US and Australia.
Be is incredibly busy, also teaching French and English and translation work, as well as several volunteer commitments.
These include working at The Cosy, the café attached to The Lighthouse in the town centre, and doing voluntary counselling at a women’s support centre in Woking and a young people’s service in Croydon.
She said her husband was very supportive, especially while she trained as a psychotherapist having worked as an account director in the design and branding industry.
Be said that the walking therapy sessions began with an assessment, often over the phone, so that she could adapt the outings according to the clients’ ability to walk.
There are discounts for the first sessions and block bookings. FOR more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07553 826 017.