Trailtalk® fights therapy stigma with walk and talk sessions
Trailtalk® is painting a new picture of what therapy can look like.
Instead of the stereotypical image of a client lying on the couch and talking to the ceiling, therapy can happen on the move, on the trail, in a courtyard during a lunch break or elsewhere out of the office.
When Allison Page, a nurse practitioner, returned to graduate school to get a second degree in family psychiatry, the task proved more stressful than she anticipated. As she was snowshoeing in the woods with her dog one day, Page had a revelation, “This is my therapy.”
Page wanted to share the benefits of mobility-based therapy with others, so after graduating and getting some advice from another signature walk and talk therapist, Page founded Trailtalk® in Park City, Utah in 2010. Now seven years later, Page has seen how the trail can help in the healing and learning process.
“When you do that movement there really is an endorphin release that can calm your nervous system,” Page said. “When your nervous system calms down, you can think clearer.”
She even credits walk and talk therapy for bringing in clients who probably never would have gone to therapy if it weren’t for the program, clients who wouldn’t come because of the negative stigma around therapy — which Trailtalk® is working to eliminate.
“Whenever you shed light on something, it can’t grow and fester. It can’t survive,” Page says about being open about therapy instead of hiding behind doors. “We offer emotional tuneups. Try it out. Everybody deserves emotional care just like physical care. If we are doing preventive health care for our bodies, then we should be doing preventive health care for our minds.”
When Megan Perry, a therapist living in Baltimore, heard about Trailtalk®, she knew she needed to be part of the program. In 2015, Perry and her husband moved across the country she could work for Trailtalk® and opened its first affiliate office in Provo, Utah in 2016.
Perry bought into Trailtalk®’s mission: “Opening the door on the therapy office and shedding light on the shame and stigma of emotional care for everyone.” And Perry supported the active approach to therapy — known at Trailtalk® as Move your Body, Clear your Mind® — because of its benefits.
“When you walk, you bilaterally process, so you process things a little bit differently and more effectively than when you’re just sitting,” Perry said. “The whole idea together can make therapy more effective for the appropriate clients.”
As a business structure, Trailtalk® focuses on three things: accessible, approachable and affordable therapy. It’s accessible because the therapists can come to their clients. It’s approachable because it is therapy in the way the client feels most comfortable. And it’s affordable because it is comparable in cost to the average therapist office’s fee despite the fact that therapists travel to the clients.
“Affordable is we don’t make it more expensive because we meet on trails,” Perry said. “We try to keep our prices with people who are being seen in the office as well. We want people to get that added benefit and get that modality available to them without charging more.”
While Trailtalk® is known for its outdoor sessions, indoor sessions are available as well, depending on the client’s preference and what best fits their needs.
“I have some clients who have never seen the office and I have some clients who have never been on the trail,” Perry said.
Trailtalk® has 50-minute sessions. Perry has met clients at the Scera Park in Orem, on Provo River Trail and many other places in the Provo-Orem area. She has also set up meetings that work cohesively with clients’ schedules.
“There are certain businesses around here that have really pretty courtyards, so I’ve met people on their lunch breaks and we sit there in the courtyard,” Perry said. “Nobody knows we’re doing therapy because we are just sitting there talking. Or we’ve just walked around where their business area is. So I can meet you on your lunch break. You don’t have to leave work early. You don’t have to schedule outside of work when you’ve got kids and other things going on.”
Trailtalk® continues to grow. Recently, TrailtalkProvo® added new therapists Sharri Clonts, LMFT; Morgan Gonzales, LCSW; and Kyle Mammen, CMHC. With different religious and lifestyle backgrounds, Perry hopes people can find what they need in a therapist through Trailtalk®.
“Let’s not ignore the fact that everybody has stress in life and we don’t always have the tools, so go to a therapist,” Perry said. “That’s the point of being accessible and trying to decrease stigma.”
In the next year, Trailtalk® plans on expanding its services by opening new trailheads in different locations.
“We want to be the lead trailblazers in lending parity to emotional care,” Page said. “The Trailtalk® team is walking the walk and talking the talk!”
TrailtalkProvo® is located at 3585 N. University Ave., Ste. 250. Customers can set up at (435) 513-2715 ext. #8. The Park City office is located at 1760 Prospector Ave. Suite 220. Appointments for the Park City office can be made at (435) 513-2715 ext #1. Learn more about Trailtalk® at trailtalk.com.