Date of Award

Fall 12-17-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Counselor Education


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Louis V. Paradise, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Barbara Herlihy, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Zarus Watson, Ph.D.


Our society has become less physically active (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010) and less connected to nature than ever before (Berger & Mcleod, 2006). Spending leisure time indoors, technological advancements, urban living, and car dependent communities have led to these changes (Dustin, Bricker, & Schwab, 2010; Hansen-Ketchum, Marck, & Reutter, 2009; Norman & Mills, 2004). As a result, physical health and mental health is deteriorating (Dustin et al., 2010; Maller, Townsend, Pryor, Brown & Leger, 2005). Physical activity and nature can each produce mental and physical health benefits; some approaches such as adventure-based counseling and wilderness therapy already incorporate these elements. A promising alternative approach using physical activity and nature has received attention in recent years. Walk and talk therapy has been described as an intervention that combines counseling, walking, and the outdoors (Doucette, 2004). Despite, a small number of therapists using the approach (Gontang, 2009), anecdotal research (Hays, 1994), and a description of the approach (Doucette, 2004), little is known about walk and talk therapy. In this qualitative study 11 therapists were interviewed about their experiences with walk and talk therapy. Main themes of the study suggested characteristics, a procedure, reasons walk and talk therapy evolved, limitations, outcomes, and a framework for practice for walk and talk therapy. Therapists believe walk and talk therapy is beneficial for clients as well as therapists. Implications for therapists, researchers, and counselor educators are provided.


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