Nature Therapy

Outdoor psychotherapy and counselling sessions on the beautiful ancient Hampstead Heath, London –  unique eco-therapeutic approach in London

Outdoor or walk and talk therapy is just what it says, instead of working online or sitting in an office we talk AND we walk. It combines professional psychotherapeutic support with moving the body outside in nature. Amongst the ancient trees this can be deeply calming and provide food for spirit and soul. It can feel often more relaxing and meditative. It encourages healthy activity for adolescents and adults, and it gets people ‘moving’ – both metaphorically and literally.

You will set the pace of the session. If you prefer to have a relaxing meditative stroll or prefer a more active, faster paced session – walk & talk sessions will match your pace.

There are some good reasons why incorporating walking and the outdoors into your psychotherapy programme:

  • Walking and therapeutic support in the outdoors in nature can be meditative and more grounding.
  • It is a good choice for people going through a crisis or life transition, have anxiety, are dealing with trauma or are experiencing some kind of loss or grief, as well as other challenges.
  • Research shows that physical activity can enhance both mental and physical health, and can reduce levels of depression and anxiety.
  • Walking encourages circulation and activates both parts of our brain synchronising both right and left hemispheres involved in logical rational thinking as well as the feelings and creative side.
  • Movement symbolically and literally is in itself a pro-active and more constructive way of dealing with issues and concerns that show us ways to overcome them.
  • Nature around provides us not only with beautiful calming views, but also brings up metaphors allowing to work with symbolism to find solutions and new perspectives.

You may also want to check out our latest blog articles Walking the Talk: Eco-therapy Sessions in Action, Nature as Therapist – Preventing Burnout and What is Walk and Talk Therapy.

Articles were also published in the International Therapist Magazine: Walking the Talk – Counselling and Outdoor Therapy  and by What is Walk and Talk Therapy.

Additional reading and references can be found below – scroll to the bottom of the page or visit our resources section.

Also have do have a a look at our sister website:

What you need in preparation

Just bring good shoes and clothes matching the weather, e.g. a rain jacket, boots for muddy patches. Make sure you are warm enough, but it depends on you. If your body warms up quickly with movement you may like to wear some layers to be able to adjust this. Umbrellas will be provided. Should the weather be too unforgiving on the day, the session can be re-arranged for an online session that day or week instead.


  • Hampstead Heath, North London: Currently outdoor therapy sessions continue to be offered as “phone and walk” sessions .
  • Somerset, UK: Outdoor sessions are currently offered near Bath or alternatively “phone and walk” or video outdoor sessions are available

Research and Articles

Recently there has been much more development in the field and I aim to continually update information on this here. Please stay tuned also for an updated reading list that I will share here soon.

For some meditative exercises and more information see also our sister website:

What Other Therapists Have Found

Clay Cockrell, LCSW who is based in New York City is the found of the online counselling directory and conducts walk & talk therapy in New York’s Central Park. He has over twenty years experience as a practicing therapist. Conducting sessions outdoors while walking he found that “somehow the simple act of walking while talking out life’s issues creates an environment of possibility and change. I’ve seen this process work amazing results with my clients.”

In her book “Working It Out: Using Exercise in Psychotherapy”, Kate Hayes PhD cites three major reasons for combing exercise in therapy:

  • It encourages you to be more physically active for mental and physical reasons.
  • It helps you get “unstuck” when confronting difficult issues.
  • It improves mood overall and enable creative, deeper ways of thinking

Some patients may become anxious when confronting something difficult in a traditional seated, face-to-face interaction,” she says. “Walking in parallel with visual distractions may allow for easier engagement.”

Cathy Brooks-Fincher, a Brentwood, Tennessee-based licensed clinical social worker with 20 years of experience observed that patients at all levels of fitness can benefit from fresh air and exercise when it comes to processing their feelings. She initially began using walk and talk therapy with teenagers who were having a hard time opening up.“When I took them into an adjacent park, I found that patients were much more relaxed and the sessions were much more productive,” she tells WebMD. “Patients have verified that looking forward rather than directly at a therapist can help them open up.”

Brooks-Fincher also praises the “healing power of nature.” She says many patients consider the association of being outdoors with recreation and vacation, two very positive things that most people want to experience more.

Research from Doucette (2004) also showed that walk and talk therapy with adolescents encouraged them to make improved pro-social choices in behaviour and allowed them to experience increased feelings of self-efficacy and well-being.

Evidence shows that exercise in nature leads to positive short and long-term physical and mental health outcome. In their multi-study analysis Pretty and Barton (2010) found that the green environment improved both self-esteem and mood with the presence of water generating even greater effects.


(for a more extensive list, please do get in touch)

Doucette, P. A. (2004). Walk and talk: An intervention for behaviorally challenged youths. Adolescence. Vol 39 pp. 373-388.

Hays, Kate (1999). Working it Out: Using Exercise in Psychotherapy. American Psychological Association.

Johansson, M., Hartig, T., Staats, H. (2011). Psychological Benefits of Walking: Moderation by Company and Outdoor Environment. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Vol 3 (3) pp. 261–280.

McLeod, F. (2007) Walk and Talk Counseling. Trafford Publishing.

Pretty, J and Barton, J. (2010). What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis. Environ. Sci. Technol. Vol 44 (10), pp. 3947–3955.

Rethorst, C.D., Wipfli, B.M., Landers, D.M. (2009). The Antidepressive Effects of Exercise: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Trials. Sports Medicine. Vol 39 (6) pp. 491-511.

Tkachuk, G. A, & Martin, G. L. (1999). Exercise therapy for patients with psychiatric disorders: Research and clinical implications. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Vol 30 pp. 275-282.

Reading List 

(*this will be updated annually; you can find a PDF format of this list in the Resources section)

Abram, D. (1996) The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. NY: Random House/Pantheon.

Bateson, G. (1972). Steps towards an ecology of mind: Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Brazier, C. (2011). Acorns Among the Grasses – Adventures in Eco-Therapy. Alresford: O-Books.

Brazier, C. (2018). Ecotherapy in Practice – A Buddhist Model. Abingdon: Routledge.

Buzzell, L. and Chalquist, C. (2010). Ecotherapy – Healing with nature in mind. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

Clayton, S., & Myers, G. (2009). Conservation psychology: Understanding and promoting human care for nature. London: Wiley.

Fisher, A. (2012). What is Ecopsychology? A radical view. In P. Kahn & P. Hasbach (Eds.), Ecopsychology: Science, totems and the technological species (pp. 79–114). London: MIT Press.

Foster, S., & Little, M. (1992). The book of the vision quest: Personal transformation in the wilderness. New York, NY: Fireside Books.

Gergen, K. J. (2009). Relational being: Beyond self and community. Oxford: OUP.

Hall, C. (2015). Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workbook – A 12 session program for reconnecting with nature. Kindle Edition.

Hays, Kate (1999). Working it Out: Using Exercise in Psychotherapy. American Psychological Association.

Hillman, J., & Ventura, M. (1992). We’ve had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world’s getting worse. San Fransisco, CA: Harper.

Jordon, M. and Hinds, J. (Ed.) (2016). Ecotherapy – Theory, Research and Practice. Palgrave Macmillan.

Jordon, M. (2015). Nature and Therapy – Understanding counselling and psychotherapy in outdoor spaces. London: Routledge.

Kahn, P. & Hasbach, P. (Eds.) (2012) Ecopsychology: Science, totems and the technological species. London: MIT Press.

Key, D., & Kerr, M. (2011). The natural change project: Catalysing leadership for sustainability. Edinburgh: World Wildlife Fund Scotland.

Louv, R. (2011) The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age. NY: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Louv, R. (2005) Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. NY: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Macy, J. and Johnstone, C. (2012) Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy. New World Library.

Macy, J. (2007). World as lover: World as self. London: Parallax Press.

McGeeney, A. (2016). With Nature in Mind – The Ecotherapy manual for health professionals. Philadelphia, USA: Kingsley Publishers.

McLeod, F. (2007) Walk and Talk Counseling. Trafford Publishing.

Metzner, R. (1999) Green Psychology: Transforming Our Relationship to the Earth. USA: Park Street Press.

MIND. (2007). Ecotherapy: The green agenda for mental health. London: Author.

MIND. (2013). Feel better outside, feel better inside: Ecotherapy for mental wellbeing, resilience and recovery. London: Author.

Plotkin, B. (2008) Nature and the Human Soul – Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World. USA: New World Library.

Roszak, T. (1992). The voice of the earth. London: Simon and Schuster.

Roszak, T., Gomes, M., & Kanner, A. (1995). Ecopsychology: Restoring the earth, healing the mind. London: Sierra Club.

Rust, MJ. and Totton, N. (2012) Vital Signs – Psychological Responses to Ecological Crisis. London: Routledge.

Seed, J., Macy, J., Fleming, P., & Naess, A. (1993). Thinking like a mountain: Towards a council of all beings. London: New Society.

Totton, N. (2011). Wild Therapy – undomesticating inner and outer worlds. Monmouth: PCCS Books.