Psychiatric nurse practitioner takes counseling outside with Trail Talk
Pediatric and family psychiatric nurse practitioner Allison Page, MS, APRN, is the founder of Trail Talk, a method of counseling modeled after Therapylite, which sheds light on and tries to wipe out the stigma of shame active and functional people feel when they seek emotional care.
Instead of sitting in an office, Page and her clients host sessions outdoors while walking on trails. She also conducts sessions in a mobile van, parked near scenic wetlands or at the foot of mountains.
"I craft their therapies around some outdoor recreation, so they get to recreate as they recreate themselves," Page said during an interview with The Park Record. "The van also brings the office anywhere you want it. We literally change the backdrops.
"We meet people at parks and paths and if we have inclement weather or if we want a little more privacy, we hold the sessions in the van," she said. "We have a propane heater, which is perfect if we want to kept the door open during the winter and look at nature. We use nature as a healing tool."
Page will give the public a glimpse of her counseling inspirations at Dolly’s Bookstore during a signing of her new book "Trails Talk: A Walking Meditation Along the Trails in Park City Utah" on Friday, Dec. 4, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.
"The book came about because I love taking photographs as I walk through the trails up here," Page said.
"Trails Talk" is a local’s way of appreciating the common Park City, Page explained.
"When many people think of Park City, they think of skiing, downhill racing and the hustle and bustle of Main Street," she said. "This book shows you can find peace and calm even in the busyness of the town. Of course, I like to mountain bike and go fast, and I love to downhill ski, but this is an opportunity to see Park City from a different perspective."
The book’s title is a take on Page’s practice, which she conceived while in graduate school at the University of Utah.
"I have been a nurse practitioner since 1985 and went back and got a second masters degree in psychiatric nursing when my kids went away to college," she said. "It was the most stressful experience. I studied therapy and mental health and was the most stressed out in my life."
To ease the pressures, Page walked the Park City trails with her dog.
"It dawned on me that that was my therapy, and I went ‘Oh, my gosh. I’m going to do this with my clients,’" she said. "I came up with Trail Talk, trademarked it and haven’t looked back since."
One of the goals of Trail Talk is to bring emotional therapy into the mainstream.
"Many people who are active and functional still may need therapy, but they don’t feel like they do, because they are functional," Page said. "They also worry about their families’ reactions because there is a stigma to it. So, many times they won’t seek care."
That is unacceptable, she said.
"I mean we go to the doctor for physical checkups to take care of our bodies, so why we shouldn’t go in for emotional checkups," she asked. "I want to shift the paradigm away from illness care where you wait until you are sick before you seek help. Trail Talk is a way to seek preventive care and emotional tune-ups."
Page said the walk-and-talk sessions aren’t about exercise.
"There is no competition and we don’t hike hard trails," she said. "We walk side-by-side and talk.
"In the case of inclement weather, we’ll just sit in the van," she said. "I love parking by the Rail Trail and the McPolin Barn up here, and I really enjoy stopping by Red Butte Garden and the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake City."
Allison Page, MS, APRN and founder of Trail Talk, will be at Dolly’s Bookstore, 510 Main St., to sign her new book, "Trails Talk: A Walking Meditation Along the Trails in Park City, Utah, on Friday, Dec. 4, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.dollysbookstore.com or http://www.trailtalkpc.com.
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The film captures a transparent self-portrait of the American wilderness, emphasizing the importance of communication that goes beyond listening for the sake of responding.