Counselling encounters conducted outdoors help clients to think about their presenting issues by responding to the natural environment. Both counsellor and client benefit from being outside, away from the work-a-day world and surrounded by the beauty of woodland, fields or garden. They are not confined by the walls of the counselling room, and they are not distracted by its furnishings. They enter a quiet space where they can reflect together on the client’s concerns. The advantage of this way of working is that, later, the client can work in this way with herself/himself.
When we allow ourselves the time to stop and gaze, we find that objects along the path draw our attention. Take the image above as an example. As I walk along a woodland path, I find myself drawn to a particular tree. I stop. Quietening myself, I allow myself to linger. I start to look in more detail. In this case I notice how the tree spreads its branches across the sky. No matter that they are stark and unleaved. The tree is making a bold statement across the sky. I like its starkness. I like the quirky formation of its branches, and I think that it is this quality of quirkiness which draws me to it.
As I reflect, I feel that, like the tree, I impose my own patterns on my experience. I construct the world I see. As I look up at the sky through the spreading branches, I wonder how I filter my experiences? I ask myself what a particular relationship looks like from another angle. I consider that, whether I acknowledge it or not, I am, like the tree, highly visible. I wonder what my being contributes to others in my world.
The counsellor’s role. In all this my counsellor is my companion and my guide.