‘Walk-n-Talk’ therapy uses nature to help make a different for patients

They may look like two guys taking a walk along the shores of Lake Michigan on a good day, but Glenn Sevier is actually conducting a therapy session with a client.

“This is my office. Right here. What you see is what you get,” said Sevier, LCSW and executive director of Advance Potential Psychological Services (APPS).

Sevier, a school social worker and private therapist, began holding his sessions outdoors more than 20 years ago, coining the term “Walk-n-Talk” therapy.

“One day I said to a client, ‘why don’t we go for a walk?’ “It’s the best place to try things and we don’t have to be in this closed environment,” Sevier said.

Tom Miller of Chicago became a client five years ago after a serious back injury left the filmmaker out of work.

“I was bedridden and couldn’t work and wasn’t out of the house and, you know, it was really depressing,” Miller said.

His wife learned about Sevier’s “Walk-n-Talk” approach online and shared it with Miller.

“I grew up doing Boy Scouts and stuff like that. So I’m very familiar with how, being on a long hike or a hike, you can have conversations that you wouldn’t otherwise have, so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll try it,'” Miller said.

Sevier says the benefits are not just psychological, but physiological.

“When you walk outside, you get energy, exercise, and your heart rate increases. You start to get this sense of feeling good and that really allows you to open up,” Sevier said.

“You know, I felt a lot more able to talk and go to some vulnerable places because I felt like it was kind of a side-by-side joint activity, rather than, you know, like I was being studied,” Miller said.

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The strategy Sevier uses is not just for therapy, it can also help when you need someone in your daily life to open up: a friend, your spouse, even your children.

“That’s what I do with my daughters. Often, if there was something difficult that they wanted to talk about or didn’t want to talk about, I would say, let’s go for a walk,” Sevier said.

Walking side by side means less eye contact, so people often feel less judged.

“It’s not just two guys talking while walking. It’s therapy. It’s very intentional, but I didn’t feel like I was under a microscope,” Miller said.

Since endorphins are released with each step, it’s therapy that’s literally a walk in the park.

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