Health & Wellbeing: What is immersive coaching and should we all be doing it?
Claire Spreadbury looks into walking and talking therapy, to see what it's all about.
Coaching - whether it's for your working or personal life - always seems like a helpful idea. Getting advice from someone less close to any situation that might be holding you back, driving you crazy or getting you down, and who can help you get focused on finding a way forwards.
Immersive coaching is a newly trending approach - but what does it mean, and can it really make a difference?
What is immersive coaching?
Immersive coaching involves talking to a trained coach, while immersing yourself in nature. We've known for some time the positive effects surrounding ourselves in nature has on the mind, but for anyone who might find talking to a coach or counsellor intimidating, chatting side by side and as you trundle through green fields, basking in sunshine, sheltering from showers and ambling through greenery can really take the anxiety out of the situation.
Who's it for?
Karen Liebenguth, a 'green space coach' and mindfulness expert, suggests it's ideal for clients who might find it hard to commit to regular coaching, or for clients who like having time and space over a whole day to explore one specific area in their life with a coach.
"My immersive coaching days often attract leaders who are pressed for time and in need of a change in scenery to take a broader perspective on things, and to have a safe and confidential space to talk things through," she says.
What's it like?
Trialling the experience within the expansive Surrey Hills, I walked for seven miles, talking almost constantly about one specific issue. For me, it was work, but you can bring anything to the table - as long as you think it's achievable to come up with a plan and some potential outcomes within that one session.
No doubt many of us have deeper issues that we know will take time to unlock and conquer, but something like work or minor home life issues can be really batted about. I found I knew a lot of the answers already. But talking about it to someone outside of your situation, who knows what questions to ask and when, and setting aside time for that whole experience does wonders. By the end of the day, I had a list of pointers, which we turned into a timeline of actions. The hardest part is following up on it all afterwards.
"Coaching immersion days offer something completely different, something we all long for: time and space in beautiful nature away from the demands and pressures of day-to-day life," notes Liebenguth. "Typically, clients bring issues such as feeling stuck in their job or feeling a lack of purpose and direction, or needing time and space to reflect and think things through. Often, clients book an immersive coaching day when they need to come to terms with a major life change, and need support and help to take the next steps."
How much does it cost?
A coaching immersion day will vary in cost depending on where you live and the overall package on offer. It can cost around £1,000 including lunch, for example, but there are also ways to DIY your own therapy session if cost is out of the question for you.
For instance, if you have a friend or colleague who is good at listening, asking questions and giving advice, you could book in your own immersive session, mapping out what you want to talk about. Book in a date, go for a big walk, listen to each other and ask questions - you'll be amazed what you get out of it. If nothing else, it provides a safe space to chat through an issue that's on your mind, which can only ever be a positive experience.