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Translated from https://www.zaobao.com.sg/lifestyle/feature/story20211019-1204711
Mr Gerald Boh (Clinical Director of Okay To Chat)’s interview with zaobao on Walk & Talk Therapy.

“Walking is man’s best medicine.” Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, once said.

The healing effect of nature is supported by scientific evidence. Research published by the School of Biological Science in Essex University (UK) in 2010 found that having regularly exercises in nature helped with mood and self-esteem. The healing effect varies. Young people and individuals with mental health conditions showed greater improvements.

What is Walk & Talk Therapy?
Walk & Talk Therapy is the combination of counselling and movements of walking in nature. This way of conducting counselling therapy has gained popularity over the last 15 years in the U.S. It started when Clay Cockrell, a psychotherapist in New York, moved his therapy sessions to a park next to his client’s office to accommodate the client’s busy schedule. To his surprise, the therapeutic effect was significant.

How is it carried out?
The counsellor walks along with the client while providing talk therapy.

For clients who don’t feel comfortable about making eye contact, Walk & Talk Therapy is a great alternative.
It can be beneficial for clients who are resistant to traditional talk therapy, clients with depression, anxiety or ADHD.

  • The left-right rhythmic movement of walking combined with the processing of emotions in talk therapy creates bilateral stimulation to the brain, which can bring a relaxation effect.
  • Walking in nature can help clients to be more mindful and present.

More about Gerald Boh
Gerald Boh (Psychologist and psychotherapist) has been providing Walk & Talk Therapy since 2015. He uses the metaphor of walking “looking ahead, moving forward” in the process of walk and talk. He once had a client who was stuck in the past, and always talked about his regrets from the past. Gerald thus asked him to walk backwards. The client walked backwards awkwardly, and kept looking left and right to make sure he would fall. Gerald then asked him to turn around and walk forward. “Which way of walking can bring you forward in life?” Gerald asked the client. The client reflected on himself, and realized that he was stuck because he’s been focusing on the past and walking backwards.

As a former P.E. teacher in school, Gerald sometimes incorporates physical exercises such as jumping jack for suitable clients. Such physical exercises are not only ways to enrich the walk & talk experiences, but also a metaphor for clients to challenge themselves and step out of the comfort zone.