If you’re the type of person that finds clarity and relaxation outside, it may be beneficial to bring up an outside session with your therapist. When seeking help from a mental health professional, it’s important that you’re comfortable and honest with your emotions and inner thoughts.
For some people, they feel most open when out with nature, finding it easier to be mindful and connect with what they’re feeling. If you regularly use online therapy resources like MyTherapist, you may find it easier to take your phone call or video chat out to the backyard or front porch. While there are a few limitations to consider when discussing this with your therapist, there are benefits present that could lead to you taking the occasional session out into the daylight.
Open environment, open discussion
It may seem cliché to say that the open outdoors can help open your mind, but there is research that supports this theory. During the 2020 British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology in Solihull, one study suggested that a therapist’s office may not always be an effective environment. Participants in the study expressed an “increase in freedom to express themselves” and felt a more significant bond between themselves and their therapist.
Being in nature can also help disconnect patients from traumatic experiences at home. For people with mental health conditions like anxiety, PTSD, or depression, they may feel more at ease talking in an environment not associated with their trauma—a closed-off room or one-on-one discussions. Places like gardens and can be associated with safe spaces and clarity, providing some patients with the ability to discuss their experiences more freely.
Bright light & serotonin
Recent studies have suggested there may be a correlation between sunlight and increased serotonin synthesis. Serotonin is a chemical within your brain that stabilises your mood, helping you feel happier in most cases. Spending more time outside in the sunlight can help increase your serotonin production, with some studies suggesting your skin may have the ability to synthesise the chemical.
It can sometimes be as simple as moving your work area closer to windows and taking a brief walk outside on your breaks. For people that have frequent rain or cloud coverage or if you have a hard time regularly getting outside, it can be beneficial to talk to your therapist about this option. With the combination of fresh air and light physical activity, regularly getting outside can contribute to your ability to discuss topics you may initially find challenging.
The first and possibly most obvious setback that can affect your regular outdoor therapy sessions is the weather. Planning accordingly ahead of time is important, but there are those moments when you may neglect to check the weather update or the report happens to be wrong. In this case, it’s important to have a backup plan in place before your visits. You may want to keep the visit close to their office, under a covered gazebo, or near someplace you’re comfortable taking the conversation to, like a coffee shop.
However, this contributes to another limitation that your therapist will likely point out first: privacy. If they have a small walking garden or secluded path you can take the therapy session, this can be a better alternative than visiting a crowded park or coffee shop. Not only can these become suddenly busy, but you may run into people you’re acquainted with. For many therapy sessions, you may be discussing difficult or challenging subjects that require your privacy – in this case, it may be best to keep the visit within your therapist’s office.
While you may not be able to have every session outside of your therapist’s office, trying to take a few of your conversations into the open can contribute to your feelings of clarity and relaxation. If you use an online counselling service, this can be much easier; if you have some privacy in your home or neighbourhood, you can take your laptop or phone call into the backyard or front porch to have an open outdoor session. With the benefit of sunlight, fresh air, and a support system right next to you, you may have a more positive outlook on treatment and improvements.
This post is brought to you by BetterHelp. Featured image: Mario Dobelmann/Unsplash