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Winchester Youth Counselling (WYC) embraced the healing power of nature with open arms during a transformative outdoor training day held on Saturday, April 27th. Led by Jill Guppy and supported by nature therapy staff members, Owen Toner and Katy Seymour.

Themed ‘Working with young people outdoors,’ the training day aimed to explore the therapeutic potential of nature in youth counselling. Attendees were invited to immerse themselves in a series of activities carefully crafted to foster connection, reflection, and personal growth amidst the serene backdrop of the great outdoors.

The day commenced with a tranquil “sit spot,” which gave participants a chance to connect with nature and get ready for the day ahead. Jill Guppy, with help from Owen Toner, delivered an enlightening talk on working therapeutically with individuals outdoors. From the walk and talk method to establishing boundaries, attendees gained invaluable insights into effectively supporting young people in outdoor, therapeutic settings.

Following the informative session, participants embarked on a walk and talk experience in pairs, putting theory into practice. The subsequent exchange of ideas and experiences laid the foundation for constructive feedback, encouraging an environment of shared learning and growth.


People walking in pairs


As the day progressed, the group gathered around a crackling campfire, indulging in the timeless tradition of cooking over open flames and mastering the art of whittling hazel sticks and fire lighting. This brought together a shared experience for all, beyond the boundaries of the training session.


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The afternoon session delved into the dynamics of working with groups of young people outdoors, facilitated by Jill, Katy, and Owen. Discussions revolved around strategies for working with groups of young people outdoors, harnessing the inherent power of nature to promote teamwork, communication, support, and personal growth for young people. Attendees were then invited to participate in a woodland activity, creating nature calendars.


Woodland circle making


Feedback and questions accompanied each segment of the training day, underscoring the enthusiasm of participants to delve deeper into the transformative potential of outdoor therapy. It became evident that the transformative outdoor training day was well received by all attendees, here’s some of the feedback received:


I felt welcomed and relaxed

I love the idea of a nature therapy group and the activities that are offered to young people

I have really enjoyed the day and connecting with the outdoors

The day was broken down well into 1:1 work and then group work, I loved the activity

A lovely training day with a lovely team, it was nice to see how passionate you all are

Thank you for sharing all experiences, it was really helpful, understanding how you feel, being curious about what is going on for that person

I enjoyed getting in touch with my inner child, roasting marshmallows, whittling sticks and making fire

It was interesting experiencing walk&talk and how it differs to counselling inside a room

Great location and knowledgeable leaders

It was so nice to reconnect with nature and the peace and quiet, it has made me think about slowing down


Woodland flower circle


The outdoor training day hosted by Winchester Youth Counselling signifies a significant step forward in the charity’s commitment to holistic and innovative approaches to youth mental health. As the day ended, attendees left feeling rejuvenated, appreciative, and excited about the power of nature’s healing touch.