The walk was four miles long, but it only felt like a mere moment had passed. That was what I realized as I parted ways with therapist Glenn Sevier, LCSW, after he took me on a walk so I could experience some of what his clients experience when they take part in his revolutionary Walk-N-Talk™ Therapy services.
For two decades, Glenn has been inviting his clients to get up off the proverbial office couch and step out into nature to get more in touch with their mental wellness. I’ve been writing about Glenn’s services for about six months now, and we thought it best to walk with Glenn so I could effectively step into the shoes of his clients.
Though Glenn could not give me one of his traditional Walk-N-Talk™ sessions because I work with him, he did his best to give me an idea of what the experience is like for his clients from start to finish.
Before our walk, Glenn sent me a map of the route we would be taking, along with a rundown of the weather forecast. He also offered suggestions of what to bring to help me navigate any changes in weather or terrain.
We were to set out from near the South Beach House in Evanston and walk the Lakefront Trail north to the Northwestern University Campus. In total, we would be walking and talking for four miles!
Glenn explained that he always gives his clients these details before a Walk-N-Talk™ Therapy session, so they can have an idea of what to expect and can prepare what to wear or bring for their walks.
Not only did Glenn prep me for the walk with information, he also presented me with a bottle of cold water when he greeted me. This, too, he says he does with his clients as a gesture of connection. And, wow, did that water come in handy!
One thing Glenn has stressed, though, is that Walk-N-Talk™ Therapy, like life, requires one to be adaptable, open and accepting. It wasn’t far into our walk that I realized I had to throw my own expectations about the walk out the window.
Prior to meeting up with Glenn, I had had a stressful morning, so my mind was preoccupied with thoughts like:
I feel so bad I arrived a bit late.
I wonder what’s going to happen on this walk.
I feel nervous walking with a therapist.
Will my blood sugar go low during the walk? If so, what do I do?
What if I can't think of anything to talk about?
Will I need to sit down or take any breaks?
How long will it take?
It wasn’t long until I was snapped out of my stress-filled script and into reality.
As Glenn and I passed a shoulder-height hedgerow at the start of our walk on this beautiful 72-degree day, I felt a swoosh of wind over my head and a shiver that felt like the breeze of a wingbeat. Sure enough, a red-winged blackbird had just tried to swoop right onto my head!
Glenn warned me that these blackbirds are very protective of their nests and may swoop defensively.
I emerged unscathed and laughing at how…just steps into this stroll…I was reminded that no matter how much you prepare for something, life can throw you a real curveball.
The bird turned out to be a great ice breaker between me and Glenn.
As we continued on, I couldn’t help but notice my breathing became more and more even with every step. My earlier stresses began to ease quickly as I our conversation flowed and my energy naturally shifted from being stuck inside the confines of my expectations to encountering every pace like it was the start of a fresh journey.
I found myself stopping again and again to snap photographs of things I might never have noticed if I were just on an errand…things I certainly would not have noticed had Glenn and I met in his office.
The shadows left by leaves as we walked past Clark Square.
The errant kite caught high in a tree branch, still unfurling to show its beautiful facade with each wind gust.
The clang of boat masts.
The pockets of sunshine sneaking through patches of forestry.
The sound of gravel underfoot.
The distant outline of Chicago’s skyline, becoming smaller and smaller as we moved further from the city.
Also growing ever distant were my doubts and worries about the day.
Glenn and I talked about so many things! We discussed my college studies, our mutual love of hiking and some of the amazing places we've walked before we set out on this adventure together.
After about a half-hour, Glenn said it was time to head back. I was suddenly struck with disappointment and surprise that the walk was almost over. By the time we reached our starting point again, it was almost impossible to believe we had logged over three miles.
Since the walk with Glenn, I’ve found myself tuning into everyday things I used to overlook when I would walk to the store, to the library or even home from the CTA train station. As someone who often holds her breath by accident, I have now been able to connect with and steady my breath while I walk. I've even taken to taking long walks just to clear my head when my I feel overwhelmed.
My main takeaways about Walk-N-Talk™ Therapy are:
Accept what comes your way; you never know what it may lead to
Celebrate the little things
Walking can help me clear my stress and put me back in the moment
When life gets overwhelming, get outside and take a walk
After I started to write this blog, I took my own walk of more than five miles just to get away from the computer screen. It had just begun to thunder, but I didn’t let the impending storm deter me.
I grabbed my favorite umbrella, laced up my waterproof hiking shoes and set out. Listening to my steps as they splashed their own small puddles on the rain-wet sidewalk. Smiling at the peaceful sunshine I could somehow find inside my mind…despite the rain.
Walk-N-Talk™ Therapy: Everyone's Journey Is Different
There's no doubt my experience walking with Glenn left an impact. I later realized how much Walk-N-Talk™ mirrors life because everyone has a different journey and encounters different challenges.
Glenn preps each client for Walk-N-Talk™ the same way and though the actual path and each client experience may vary, one thing remains true: Walk-N-Talk™ Therapy leaves a lasting impact.
As one client who works as a director of marketing and communications said,
“Glenn's Walk-n-Talk Therapy combined the best of all worlds for me -- exercise, fresh air, a nonjudgmental ear, and a path out of the overwhelming anxiety that I was experiencing after a job change. It eliminated the awkward intensity of the "all eyes on me" feeling in a closed-in therapist's office and provided space to breathe, pause, think and process. Even though you might be out in public sharing very personal thoughts, it feels more like taking a walk with a good friend -- you can share, you can wander off topic, you can be challenged and you can just be quiet. I still think about what I learned because there are interesting visual cues associated with those ideas, which may not have happened in an office. (That said, his office is pretty nice too, if the weather is bad!)”
About Walk-N-Talk™ Therapy
Walking can be therapeutic, but walking with a trained professional—can be life
Therapist Glenn Sevier, LCSW, was the trailblazer for Walk and Talk Therapy when he founded Walk-N-Talk™ Therapy in 2003 as an innovative way to assist his high school students to engage in their counseling sessions. After seeing the positive effects it had, Glenn created and incorporated the Walk-N-Talk™Therapy modality into his private practice as an effective method that was welcomed by clients. Since then, the initiative and similar movements have grown to be embraced around the world, offering a promising new way for people to traverse the twists and turns of their mental wellness journey.
For clients, this style of therapy has several benefits. It puts physical and mental distance between the client and their stress-causing environment and it inspires self-awareness, physically and creatively. The nature component is conducive to the client’s lifestyle and opens the senses to the client's natural settings, be it lakefront or forest preserve or city parks and streets. Clients have reported experiencing a sense of calm, clarity, focus and energy following these sessions.
Walk-N-Talk™️ Therapy addresses the following:
Mental Health -
* Anxiety * Anger Management or Conduct Disorder * Attention Deficit Hpyeractivity Disorder (ADHD) * Chemical Dependency * Depression * Grief and Loss * PTSD and Trauma Healing
Physical Health -
* Lower Blood Sugar * Lower Cholesterol * Lower Blood Pressure *
Decrease Stress and Anxiety
Authentically Human; Not AI-Generated
To learn more about Walk-N-Talk™ Therapy and how it can benefit you, contact Glenn at 773-512-8813 or send an email at [email protected]. You can also check out Glenn's website (www.AdvancePotential.com) for more details about the physical, emotional and mental effectiveness of this innovative approach.