Taking Therapy Beyond the Four Walls of an Office


This is something that is desperately needed in this day and age. It is something I, as a licensed therapist, had to have a deeper understanding of. This occurred when working with a then client.

Take someone who has been in and out of drug rehabilitation facilities since she was in her mid-20s. Now, she is in her early 40s. She comes to me. Seeing what I have to offer and that it is something different than everything else she has tried.

After a few sessions, she was feeling like a failure. Feeling like she was going into the same loop all over again. Even with various modalities being offered, it was not enough. As she was going back into the story of sorrow and despair, I stopped her.

“Grab your belongings. We’re going outside.”

“What?”

“You heard me. Grab your belongings. We’re going outside.”

It was nothing special we did. The only difference was we took the session from inside the physical four walls to outside. Beautiful day. Not too hot or cold. Walking and talking. Yet, the change of the environment is what made the difference. As beautiful as the physical office was, it can still have a feel of sterility to it at times.

Unproductive. No new ideas or insights coming from the environment or the client. Going back into the loop of the story the client tells self over, and over and over.

One simple change helped to place the client directly in his or her experience. To become more creative and feeling like he or she is taking an active role in the process. To look out at nature, seeing how much it changes from moment to moment and realizing we are not stuck. Change is all around us. If it can be there amongst nature, then it is there for us too.

Happy to report that this former client has been clean and sober for a year now. This experience and some other clients I have worked with, in trying different settings, changing the environment has been beneficial. This is especially true for those for whom a lot of anxiety is created upon entering into a physical office, due to past traumatic experiences at a counseling office, medical office or hospital. I let my office go. Extending myself and my services beyond the physical four walls of an office with online therapy/services, distance therapy/services and now the inclusion of walk and talk counseling/coaching.

It is important, whether you are a client or counselor, to examine the following question: Have you become complacent? This is not as an attack, but a serious question to ask. Are you OK with where you are at? When you know there is something internally that tells you otherwise?

Image via Thinkstock.

This post originally appeared Your Mindful Path.

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