In this episode, Stephen Hays chats with Clay Cockrell. Clay is a therapist in New York, NY and has gained quite a bit of notoriety for the medium through which he meets his clients. He meets his clients for walks. Clay started Walk and Talk Therapy in NYC after realizing many busy professionals simply don’t have time to transit to therapy sessions.
Clay has been featured on numerous TV shows, and in many publications including Good Morning America, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London and the NY Times for his unique approach of walking with his therapy clients instead of meeting in an office.
It is evident from our conversation that Clay is passionate about helping people navigate the complicated world of accessing mental health care. His entire career has been focused on making therapy convenient. He created The Online Counseling Directory - which connects qualified psychotherapists and life coaches with clients all over the world.
Clay is also the host of the podcast “Finding Therapy” where he takes listeners through a step by step process of finding the right therapist and he hosts another podcast called “The Online Counseling Podcast” where he educates therapists on the ethical and effective ways to use technology to connect with clients.
You can connect with Clay Cockrell and learn more about his work here: Walk and Talk Therapy, LinkedIn, OnlineCounseling.com, Podcast: Finding Therapy, Podcast: Online Counseling.
SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT:
Clay Cockrell is a therapist in New York City who has always been attracted to stories about humans and how our histories impact us. He built his Walk and Talk Therapy practice in NYC on the idea that clients often are busy, stressed out, and rarely willing to make transit across the city for a therapy meeting in the middle of their busy day.
Clay was born and raised in Kentucky, and his wife is an actress in New York. Clay noticed his clients had a hard time getting out of the office to come to meetings with him. He wanted a way to make it convenient, so he decided to come to his clients, and host meetings while walking and talking. Clay credits the idea to his wife suggesting that he make meetings more convenient, and she was right!
Clay noticed that as he walked and talked with clients, that his clients opened up more, and the sessions were more effective. He also meets with his clients remotely online now as well and we talk about the effectiveness of remote therapy via voice, video or text in this episode.
One observation Clay made during walking meetings is that clients are often uncomfortable sitting on a couch, staring a therapist in the eyes, and revealing their deepest darkest secrets. However, if you get the clients moving, there seems to be more of a willingness to be vulnerable. Maybe this is due to the movement, maybe it’s a more comfortable environment, maybe it’s the eye contact.
Clay’s clients are primarily men, and we talked at length about men’s mental health broadly. Men are resistant sometimes to talking about emotions. It seems to Clay that men are resistant to sitting down and reflecting. In our society, it hasn’t been considered “masculine” to go to a therapist. However, that is changing, and Clay believes that men are seeing the value of therapy more and more today as stigma decreases.
Why does this idea of masculinity keep men from getting help? It’s the media, John Wayne imagery, being vulnerable is considered bad. We are complex beings. It’s hard to live with intention and often we find ourselves operating whimsically under the influence of what the media tells us we have to be.
What makes men willing to come into therapy for the first time? Desperation and pain, Clay explains, for the most part. We talk about the value of community in our lives. There are millions of people in NYC but everybody is lonely. Isolation is dangerous