You tied up all the pieces of who I am into this simple package. I've never come home from a training before feeling so supported. When I came back home I felt 'Yeah I can do this!
-- Mary Alice, Certified Forest Therapy Guide
*All Tuition costs are US Dollars. Tuition does not include accommodation and catering, prices for these vary depending on venue and are booked directly with the venue.
What is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide?
Dates and Locations
Forest Therapy Guide Training Opportunities
A Forest Therapy Guide facilitates safe gentle walks, providing instructions—referred to as “invitations”—for sensory opening activities along the way. These walks follow a standard sequence. Each walk begins with establishing embodied contact with the present moment and place. Next come a series of connective invitations, often improvised in the moment and adapted to the needs of participants. These may be followed by wander time and/or sit spot. The walks end with a ceremony of sharing tea made from foraged local plants.
Forest therapy walks are not hikes in the traditional sense. An entire walk is typically 2 to 4 hours in duration and often covers no more than a quarter mile distance. In that short distance most people experience contact with nature in a much deeper way than they ever have prior to the walk. On Forest Therapy walks, people have a wide range of experiences, some of which they feel are significant, even profound. Guides are trained in the skills and perspectives needed to be supportive witnesses of these experiences.
During these walks people experience the therapeutic power of the forest. The forest itself is the therapist. We don't train therapists; we train guides. By slowing people down and facilitating sensory experiencing, guides open the doorways through which the forest can accomplish its healing work.
The training was like no other I had experienced, plenty of breathing in and time to breath out again, so many courses are just so full-on to cram everything in but this one, although we covered a lot of ground, felt more relaxed. Beautiful training, in beautiful surroundings, with beautiful people.
The practice of Forest Therapy clearly prioritizes sensory experience over intellectual understanding. Unlike more familiar approaches to nature education, Forest Therapy Guides are not primarily concerned with imparting naturalist knowledge. Nurturing curiosity and asking good questions is emphasized over imparting factual expertise. However, as a matter of professional responsibility Guides continuously cultivate their own knowledge about nature and about the bioregions and ecosystems in which they operate, and use this knowledge to enhance connective experiences as appropriate.
When guides have developed baseline proficiency in the practice of Forest Therapy, they may begin to integrate Forest Therapy practices with other professional skills sets. For example, Forest Therapy can provide an excellent context for psychotherapy, professional life coaching, expressive arts, mindfulness meditation, PTSD recovery, and many more fields of professional endeavor. Individual guides bring their creativity and experience to the design of new and/or modified invitations, and are encouraged to share these with other guides via a private guides-only online forum maintained by the Association.
Here are our known dates for 2017 and 2018. We will update this list with dates for Australia as soon as we know them. Keep checking back. Please apply early if you are committed to coming to any of these programs, they fill up quickly. Please see below for tuition.
Guided Forest Therapy helps participants build their own skills. It helps them build their capacity for confidence, ease and mindfulness in self-guided solo or group walks that support a healthy lifestyle and love of natural environments. Thus we contribute to the movement to reconnect people with nature, for the sake of their own well-being as well as the well-being of the natural world.
The Certification Program
Our certification program aims to establish a growing network of professional forest therapy guides who:
I completed the training in June and recently started taking my clients on nature therapy walks. The feedback has been fantastic! What struck me was how well the training prepared me. I felt I had a plenty of tools and that I could adapt the therapy to any client. I knew how to chose a location, talk about the process with clients, and deal with surprises. I just felt so prepared.
The Pathway to Training and Certification
Begin by completing an online application form. Upon being accepted and being registered, this is what you can expect:
Our Forest Therapy Guide Trainings begin with a 7-day intensive residential program, which may be held at a campground, botanical garden, private lodge, or other venue. This is followed by a six-month mentored practicum consisting of two 'tracks'. The guiding track builds your skills and confidence as a Forest Therapy Guide by supporting you to design and guide your own Forest Therapy walks. The nature connection track focuses on getting to know your local bio-region more intimately through core nature connection practices and deepening your bio-regional knowledge.
Candidates who complete all steps of the training and certification process, and have demonstrated competency in all of the certification standards, will earn the status of Certified Forest Therapy Guide.
What you will learn
- The Standard Sequence of Guided Forest Therapy Walks
- Competency standards: what a Forest Therapy Guide should know and be able to do
- The pedagogy and fundamentals of nature connection mentoring
- Nature and forest therapy research and knowledge
- Our framework for the Way of the Guide, wisdom on the inner aspects of the art gained through decades of experience
- Accelerating connection to deep mindfulness through simple sensory invitations
- Bio-regional nature knowledge
- Trail awarenesses and safety
- Trail design and selection
- Group process skills that promote interactive learning
- Sequencing forest therapy invitations for maximum impact and benefit
- Forest therapy course design
- Core routines of nature connection
- Expressive arts activities for forest therapy
- Somatic techniques for embodied awareness
- Tips for successfully promoting your forest therapy offerings
- Much more; many participants report that this training profoundly affects many aspects of their lives.