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Image 12 of Kentucky Alumni, vol. 80, no. 3, Fall 2009

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2 Cla Cockre||· Y • Going That Extra Mile For Patients T Using Central Park as a backdrop, » »; i ‘ T . .»a ¥_ N A _, T j "" g T UK grad offers ’WaIk and Talk Therapy’ _ "` . Caa, T s ` T —· .*’ ~ ai, ». ~ U- 1* By Beverly K. Bell = * ” _ t , - .. ¤ tg ai n the beginning, it was just rock and mud; a swampy there. When he married fellow UK alumna and aspiring ’ Iparcel of land bordered by what is now 59th and actress Sandy Harper, the relocation seemed inevitable. , A . S 106th Streets, between Fifth and Eighth Avenues. The couple thrived, she an active partner in their joint A; — A But Central Park’s designer, Frederick Law Olm- theater company (see page 13) and he growing his pri- an sted, envisioned something else. Along with British vate practice. Then, one day, a patient couldn’t get away . ** _ architect Calvert Vaux, Olmsted imagined a refuge from his job for his mid-day appointment with Cock- S , for stressed-out New Yorkers. He believed that noth- rell. The commute time, the session itself the trip back ’ ing could cure the ills ofthe psyche and the spirit like to the office — were too much. When Cockrell’s wife g_ a walk in the park. suggested he go to the client and conduct the session "" Q A Novy psychotherapist Clay Cockrell is proving Olm- during the man’s lunch hour while walking in nearby T; 1 sted’s theory With a unique brand of therapy the Uni- Central Park, Cockrell resisted. versity of Kentucky graduate is getting his patients up “My immediate reaction was “no, you can’t do off the traditional couch and outdoors, helping them that,’” Cockrell recalls. But after mulling it over, he work through their problems while strolling in Amer- couldn’t come up with a good reason why nat. He ica’s premier urban sanctuary offered the alternative to the patient, who grabbed This is not your mother’s psychotherapy Forget the the opportunity. Slowly, other clients opted for the j subdued lighting and the floor-to-ceiling bookcases. walking therapy sessions, as well. And something l Instead, think Strawberry Fields and Shakespeare started to happen. Patients, who hadn’t been able to ___’__' Garden. With Central Park’s American elms as the progress in their treatment, began breaking through canopy and a Balto statue as the backdrop, “Walk and and making headway. I ‘ Talk Therapy” represents a new twist in an estab- Walking forward in one of New York’s parks became lished profession. a metaphor for moving forward in their lives. _ “When 1 have to go indoors and meet with a client “They say that every memory you’ve ever had is stored i fl because of weather, it’s a completely different session,” within all of your cells,” Cockrell explains. When peo- Cockrell says. “1t’s almost as if the two should not be ple become physically active, everything comes to life V _ called the same thing — therapy.” — experiences, emotions, self-awareness. The body Cockrell had every intention of becoming a typical triggers the mind and the healing. {_ therapist, even though there were clues that something 1t took several years, but eventually Cockrell transi- * a little more eclectic might be in store for the 1995 tioned his entire practice to walk and talk therapy in A graduate. Kids who grow up in small towns like Mount 2005. He now treats four to Hve patients a day for depres- Sterling, Ky, don’t normally end up living in the real- sion, addictions, grief relationship problems and other is- life Gotham. sues; all while walking 10- 15 miles, from early morning to But two years after earning his master’s in social work late in the evening. Occasionally he has sessions in Battery at UK, he did just that, moving to New York City With Park for his “Wall Street guys,” but most of his counseling his deep interest in acting — he had a minor in theater takes place in Central Park. His practice has been featured _ tp 1,% from his undergraduate days at Asbury College — the in Y%eNew 161% Uma; We V%zllStreet]0wmzL and on 9 39-year-old Kentucky native had always planned to go "G00dM0rningAmerica" and CNN.com. V ¢ WT