• Dynamic Running Therapy: linking movement and traditional talking therapy

  • Welldoing spoke to William Pullen to find out more

  • If you are looking for a therapist, you can find one here

We are becoming increasingly aware of the holistic nature of physical and mental health, the knowledge that the mind and the body affect one another and both need our care for overall wellbeing.

Doing exercise releases hormones to your brain which boost self-esteem, help you concentrate and help you get more sleep - all important factors in mental health. Exercise clubs, such as running clubs, are also a great way to meet new people. You don't have to be running half marathons to benefit from exercise: going for a walk, cycling to work, getting off the bus a few stops early; it all helps. There are more and more different ways to experience counselling which embrace this holistic approach and incorporate exercise: cycling therapy, dance therapy, walking therapy. 

Psychotherapist William Pullen has come up with another new way: Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT). William, who is based in London, describes DRT as the linking of movement with traditional talk therapy. In this way, DRT replaces the static atmosphere of the therapists’ office with an outside environment rich in life, change, and possibility. 

Why Running Therapy?

I knew from personal experience how powerful running and sharing could be when I was going through a break up and so was a friend of mine. We ran every day and it got me through a very difficult time, empowered me, drove me on.

Is it popular? Who makes up the majority of the clientele?

Yes, its popular. People who do it love it. It’s as much about walking and sitting as it is about running. Mostly it’s about showing up and engaging in a process - emotion in motion if you like. I have clients from all walks of life but the majority live in West London.

How much running is involved?

I make it clear from the beginning that it is not a fitness program. It’s psychotherapy. I don't care if we never run. But I want to use movement as a way to inform us as to what is going on inside for you. If you are depressed and struggle to put a foot in front of the other we are going to talk that through as it happens.

What are the benefits?

Empowerment I would say is the major benefit. Investing in your change, getting involved. It’s more than just recalling experiences in a static room where the therapist rules and never moves. There is a greater level of engagement - not just for the client but in the therapeutic alliance with the therapist too. He takes a step for every one you do.

Do you have an anecdote to share with us?

I had a client who got out of a dead marriage, has a child with his new partner and has given up smoking. Things have moved in his life. DRT gave him confidence and momentum. What seemed immovable moved. The inertia was broken. Together we got to know his "stuckness" and moved through it.

What would your advice be to anyone feeling stuck or down?

My advice to anyone who is stuck or down: get to know how you ended up there and then start moving. ONE STEP AT A TIME. Things will and do change.

Further reading

Why does physical exercise improve mental health?

Why walking and talking therapy works

How night running on the fells simplifies my world

How yin yoga supports my therapy