A therapist without a couch Local man does ‘walk-and-talk’ therapy in NYC parks

This article is another installment in an occasional series of articles “Odd-cupations” about Hudson County residents with unusual or interesting jobs.

Clay Cockrell is someone who answers the old question, “Can you walk the walk and talk the talk?’

Cockrell, who lives in Downtown Jersey City with his wife Sandy, is well known around town for his involvement with the acclaimed “J City Theater Company” that puts on stage productions in Hudson County.

Cockrell has also worked for over 15 years as a therapist in Manhattan, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

But Cockrell does not conform to the stereotype of the therapist sitting on a chair listening to a client talk about his anxieties on a couch.

Instead, he is the founder of “Walk and Talk Therapy.” In the past five years, he has seen hundreds of clients outdoors, and his sessions are conversations carried out in New York City parks and streets.

“The cool thing about doing this is, I have seen a lot of my clients get better a lot sooner,” Cockrell said. “There is something about moving, which I think is a symbol for moving forward.”Therapy in action

Cockrell credits his wife with suggesting that he get out of the office and into the streets, after he told her about a client he was having difficulty helping.

“She said to me, ‘You like being outdoors,’ and convinced me to do a walking session,” Cockrell said.

Cockrell began seeing results. Soon, he offered other clients his new walk-and-talk sessions.

“I started out with some clients who were more creative and out of the box, and then moved on to corporate clients,” Cockrell said.

Cockrell’s walking sessions run from $100 to $150 for 50 minutes, depending on the time of day.

He meets his clients at their office and then they make their way to Central Park if they are uptown, or Battery Park if downtown.

He sees six clients a day, three in the morning and three in the afternoon. Cockrell has curtailed his workload, saying he becomes “toast” after all the walking – and talking. Seeing results

But Cockrell said this therapy has become beneficial for him in his work.

“My clients are only in therapy with me for one to two months, whereas before it was six months to a year before we saw results,” Cockrell said.

He continued, “After a couple of sessions, we start talking about other things, or they have moved on and don’t need therapy anymore.”

The constant turnover has helped Cockrell’s business, as he is starting a waiting list as result of the growing popularity of his unique practice.

But being a therapist in action takes a toll on him.

“It takes a lot of me, as I have to get myself to the energy level of the person I am meeting has,” Cockrell said. “That means working out in the morning every day; doing stretches between sessions and of course, having good shoes.”

When asked if he has gotten strange reactions on the street, he said there hasn’t been “a lot of notoriety.” Walking and talking in JC

Cockrell said he would like to do a trial run (or walk) of his sessions in Jersey City or Hoboken sometime next year along the Hudson River.

But he said he would have to work out his schedule to accommodate clients on both sides of the river since most of his 25 clients are based in Manhattan.

For more information on Walk and Talk Therapy, call (212) 796-8633 or visit www.walkandtalk.com. Comments on this story can be sent to rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com


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