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Managing Distractions in an Outdoor Counseling Session: A Guide for Nature Informed Therapists


Nature Informed therapist and client standing in a serene outdoor setting for a Nature Informed Therapy session, surrounded by falling leaves
Eco therapist and client during an outdoor therapy session, harnessing the healing power of nature.

As an institution dedicated to promoting and training nature-informed therapy, the Center for Nature-Informed Therapy understands the unique challenges that therapists may face when conducting outdoor counseling sessions. One of the most common concerns is how to manage distractions such as noise and the presence of other people. In this article, we explore strategies eco therapists can employ to mitigate these distractions and create a conducive environment for healing and growth.


1. Site Selection:

Careful selection of the outdoor location is crucial in minimizing potential distractions. Choose a spot that is somewhat secluded but still safe and accessible. Familiarize yourself with the site at different times of the day to understand its typical noise levels and foot traffic. Parks with designated quiet zones or therapeutic gardens specifically designed for tranquility can be ideal choices.


2. Timing of Sessions:

Consider conducting sessions at less busy times of the day when the chosen location is less crowded and quieter. Early morning or late afternoon hours might be suitable for most outdoor settings. However, each location is unique, so it's important to adapt to its specific characteristics.


3. Setting Boundaries:

If possible, set up a visual boundary using natural elements like a circle of stones or a string of flags. This can signal to others that a private session is in progress and deter interruptions. It’s also essential to discuss with your client how to handle any unexpected encounters with acquaintances to maintain confidentiality.


4. Noise Management:

While it's impossible to eliminate all noise in an outdoor setting, it's important to make clients aware of this aspect of outdoor therapy. Incorporating the sounds of nature into your sessions can be a way to turn potential distractions into therapeutic tools. For instance, the sounds of a river or rustling leaves can be used to promote mindfulness and relaxation.


5. Incorporating Distractions:

At times, unexpected distractions may arise despite all precautions. In such cases, therapists can use these interruptions as therapeutic tools. For instance, the sudden appearance of a squirrel or bird can be used as a metaphor or a prompt for a discussion. This approach can help clients improve their ability to handle distractions in their daily lives, promoting resilience and adaptability.


6. Preparing Clients:

Before starting outdoor therapy, prepare your clients for the experience. Discuss the potential for distractions and develop a plan together on how to manage them. This conversation can empower clients, giving them a sense of control and reducing potential anxiety around outdoor sessions.


Outdoor therapy, while presenting unique challenges, provides unparalleled opportunities for healing and personal growth. By managing distractions effectively, eco therapists can help clients connect more deeply with the natural world, fostering a transformative therapeutic experience.


Remember, the goal isn't to eliminate all distractions but to manage them in a way that they don't detract from the therapeutic process. As eco therapists, we are guides in this journey, helping our clients navigate the path to healing, even when distractions appear along the way. At the Center for Nature-Informed Therapy, we remain committed to empowering therapists with the tools and techniques necessary to manage these challenges and harness the healing power of nature.


To learn more:

Indeed, eco therapy comes with its unique set of challenges, but also with unique opportunities for healing and growth. To better equip therapists to navigate these challenges and leverage the opportunities, the Center for Nature Informed Therapy offers a comprehensive Nature Informed Therapy Certification Training program.


Our certification program provides mental health professionals with a robust toolkit of nature-based interventions, along with the skills to effectively manage outdoor therapy's inherent challenges like managing distractions. Additionally, it deepens their understanding of the theoretical foundations of Nature Informed Therapy, providing insights into principles like the biophilia hypothesis, attention restoration theory, and stress reduction theory.


By becoming a certified Nature Informed Therapist, you will join a nationwide community of mental health professionals committed to integrating the healing power of nature into their practice. This journey can expand your clinical toolbox with nature-inspired tools and possibly reorient your entire practice to be more aligned with the natural world.


If you're interested in enhancing your therapeutic practice with the transformative power of nature, we invite you to explore our Nature Informed Therapy Certification Training program. Together, we can help our clients navigate the path to healing, even when distractions appear along the way.

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