Monday, May 8, 2017

Walking therapy

We take a walk through the paths and woods of Park of Roses, Clintonville area of Columbus. The client is troubled. Walking stirs up positive (survivor) energy, contemplative energy, and feelings that have been buried. These energies make us feel viable, maybe more than if we sit on a chair or couch in the therapy room.

Client: I’m talking with you, but I don’t feel that I’m here. Of course I am; it’s nice to be outside, in the trees. But at the same time, it’s a bad reality. I want to grasp something – this branch – but I know I wouldn’t feel it. I want to feel great, adventurous, when I walk solid on the ground. But I’m walking in my mind.

Therapist: (a few more paces.) Let’s stop. Put that leaf in the palm of your hand. Quiet your mind. Feel, don’t think.

C: (a quiet moment.) I did have some feelings. A potpourri. But then a sad one. Why in the name of Crap would a leaf make me sad?

T: What would you feel if it was just you and that leaf?

C: (longer pause.) Oh my. I would fall into it, become green, drown in it. (A bit wistful.) Can’t I do that?

T: I would welcome it. Try it a little longer.

C: (client stares at the leaf.) It brings me back to childhood. (There are silences everywhere.) In all the soup of garbage, a few good moments. . . . It’s not a feeling – it’s being. Kicking a football ten times higher than the houses. Collecting a dozen honey bees in a glass jar then dropping it and running! Everything was crucial: looking at my friend’s face, burning in the summer day, walking to the far foreign end of our street where the strange kids lived. . . . But there was already something in the way, something that pulled me into myself. Anxiety. A kind of depressed fear. It made me pull back and leave things, leave everything, eventually.

This leaf is sad. Or it’s the past.

T: Allow the tears.

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There are times when I think walking therapy is the best way to do it. The client can never be fully with you anyway, because she’s going to be lost in herself. If she’s going to be lost in herself, she might as well be there within the world she has to live in.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.