Walking & talking connection and the benefits of having a dog tag along
Our walking and talking approach has enabled 1:1 work to continue throughout lockdown, outside and socially distanced. However, pre-COVID 19, the reason PYO offered this approach is because walking and talking without the constraints of being inside can feel much more comfortable for young people, it’s much easier to chat about issues and worries while having a stroll, especially if it involves throwing a ball or following Blue-belle the dog and is a very welcome alternative to a formal meeting. Mental health charity Mind carried out extensive research a few years ago, which showed that walking in the countryside could help reduce depression and anxiety. In their survey, they reported that 71% of respondents felt decreased depression and less tense after a “green” walk, while 90% felt their self-esteem increase after a country walk. Scenic, picturesque outdoor settings that produce sounds, scents and many other different types of stimulus, help thoughts and feelings arise organically and without the inhibition of pressure and expectation.
Blue-belle the dog accompanies the walks (this is optional) paying a nod to canine-assisted therapy which uses a dog to promote health and healing. Like other animals, dogs are accepting, comforting and non-judgmental, making them ideal therapy companions. Having a dog present can support young people who are feeling low, anxious or stressed to relax. Young people can interact with her or just have her alongside, Blue-belle is the queen of indifference and will passively accompany the walkers whilst adding a comforting bit of distraction. She does, however, expect to be fully included in any cake eating activity.