Our training is more than a set of techniques, it is also a pathway to understand what it means to be a guide. A Forest Therapy Guide works with the forest as a partner, to support the wellness and healing of people and nature alike. The guide is not a therapist; the forest is the therapist. Guides help others open the doors of their senses and heartfelt presence, so they can enter completely into a healing relationship with the forest and other places in the more-than-human world.
Graduates of our training have gone on to found businesses in alternative health and eco-wellness tourism, work in the non-profit section for special populations, provide corporate wellness programs and retreats, incorporate our techniques in educational settings, and collaborate in wellness programs through botanical gardens, arboretums, and private and public land managers. What began as a dream from the Earth, to simply restore our relationship with the Forest, has become a global movement. We invite you to join us on this incredible path.
We are an international community of Forest Therapy Guides who have been trained by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. There are more than 700 of us (growing each month), in over 45 countries on six continents, guiding in a dozen or more languages and in many cultures. We share our love of the more-than-human world and a passion to skillfully guide others toward remembering our deep relationship with all beings. We are energized by our shared commitment to establishing forest therapy as a high-quality, standards-based practice that is recognized throughout the world as an effective way to promote the well-being of people and of forests.
The Association was founded by M. Amos Clifford in 2012. Amos combined elements of Shinrin-Yoku practice in Japan with his four decades of experience in wilderness guiding, Zen meditation, psychotherapy, educational consulting, and nature connection to create a framework for Forest Therapy.
The first training that ANFT provided for guides was held in California in 2014. By the end of 2018 we had trained 32 guide cohorts and have developed training teams in other parts of the world. In September of 2018 a major milestone was providing our first guide training in a language other than English; we trained a cohort of guides in Spanish at a mountain retreat center in Spain. We are a truly global organization with a commitment to creating practices that are appropriate for every culture.
What energizes our work is our love of nature; but also our sense of impending environmental catastrophe caused by global overpopulation and Western Culture's emphasis on unsustainable patterns of consumption. Our contribution to finding solutions to these problems is to help as many people as possible to develop meaningful relationships with nature.
The reality is that most people don't spend much time in nature; and when we do, we are often distracted and don't interact meaningfully with the plants and other inhabitants of the forest. We agree with Jacques Cousteau that "people protect what they love." Love of nature arises naturally when we come into heartfelt, embodied relationship with it, a kind of relationship that is not characterized as much by "knowing the facts" as it is of our fundamental kinship with all beings.
We are inspired by the vision of mobilizing the largest referral network in the world—medical and healthcare systems, along with alternative and complementary healing modalities—to connect people with nature. There is now a large, robust body of research that soundly demonstrates what we have always known intuitively: that time in nature in good for us. The Association's role is to develop a solidly-grounded practice that supports the well-being of people and, by connecting them with nature, inspires millions to become advocates for healing our relationships with the more-than-human world.
Amos Clifford is the founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. A student of Buddhist philosophy for over 20 years, Amos founded Sky Creek Dharma Center in Chico, California, where he emphasized the importance of meditation practice in wild places. Amos is also widely known for his work in restorative justice. He is founder of the Center for Restorative Process, where he has led the inquiry into how the principles of restorative justice can inform ways to heal the broken relationships between humans and the more-than-human world of nature. Amos holds a BS in Organization Development and an MA in Counseling from the University of San Francisco.
Carolynne lives in Toronto, Canada, where she pursues her lifetime commitment to social and environmental justice. She is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide who brings many years of deep nature connection training to her practice. Her perspective is informed by her own indigenous heritage.
I am inspired to show other people how to connect to nature and have the appropriate tools to do so. My whole life I have been connecting to nature in a very intimate and close way. Becoming a Certified Forest Therapy Guide and then a Trainer with ANFT has given me the formal tools to show other people how to feel as part of nature as I do.
I graduated from German speaking school in Costa Rica. After school I worked as a naturalist tour guide, throughout the whole country on 2 week duration roundtrips. Through my work as a guide and a trainer I can make a real contribution to conservation because one protects the things we love the
most, and if I get people to reconnect to nature and learn to love it again, they will also protect it.
Alex has been working in International Strategy Development Plans of large corporations for the last twenty years in Europe, Asia, and South America. Now as Forest Therapy Guide, he develops Forest Therapy programs for large corporations and organizations to help companies to reduce stress, improve employees' well-being, stimulate creativity, and encourage team work. One of his great passions is to work with individuals in retreats in organized well-being programs, applying different Forest Therapy techniques. His main goal is to support participants to decrease their level of stress and improve their well-being. Additionally, Alex is also developing the KIDS & Forest Therapy Program for teens at risk of exclusion, where he has been working with different institutions toward the engagement of young people. In continuous learning, he is trained in business management, sociology, and communication through the body. He is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide, holds an E-MBA by the EAE Business School de Barcelona, and is presently completing a degree in Sociology.
Ben "Crow" Page
Ben ‘Crow’ Page is the Director of Training for the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, as well as a certified forest therapy guide, council carrier and alternative educator. He is the founder of Shinrin Yoku LA, an organization dedicated to transformative nature therapy and contemplative practice in partnership with the more than human world. Since his practice began, Ben has been featured in such media as Women’s Health, USA TODAY, Good Morning America, The Washington Post, ATTN, The Wall Street Journal and WebMD. Ben is also a co-founder of The Open School, Southern California’s only free democratic school. He holds a B.A. in religious studies from Carleton College and an M.A. in human development and social change from Pacific Oaks College.
Ben’s graduate thesis, “An exploration in Living Council,” sought to answer the question of how deep listening to all beings and throughout time and space can work to integrate deeper levels of connection to ourselves and the world around us. Jack Zimmerman, the co-author of ‘The Way of Council’ was Ben’s mentor and thesis chair on this project.
Michelle is the co-founder of The Resiliency Institute, a nonprofit organization in Naperville, IL that empowers people to live, grow and build resilient lives, landscapes and communities. We offer year long courses, Nature Rx events which include a variety of forest therapy/Shinrin-yoku walks, and we grow food security throughout communities. Michelle recently moved to Asheville, NC and is in the process of establishing a forest therapy program there.
Nadine is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. Her training includes special knowledge in guiding people of all ages in Shinrin-Yoku, "Forest Bathing," Walks and the body of scientific knowledge demonstrating the benefits of spending time in nature as a wellness practice and an effective way to manage stress. As a cancer survivor, practicing good self-care is Nadine's most important guiding principle for herself. She has come to know the healing and support that nature can offer us through her own personal wellness journey. A Massachusetts native who loves spending time wandering in and exploring nature, she is joyous to be sharing Forest Bathing with the community and creating environments for Forest Therapy.
Sara Ahmadi, COO
Sara holds a B.A. in Human Services from the California State University of Fullerton and has extensive experience in guiding and supporting others to achieve the goals and quality of life they strive for. Sara has years of experience in student services, counseling, teaching and career placement which have afforded her the pleasure of assisting hundreds of students throughout their educations, state certification processes and beyond. Her years of experience with business operations and financial management has also enabled her to provide this crucial guidance to those working towards their personal and professional ideals. Sara has also trained as a forest therapy guide, is a state certified massage therapist and an advocate for holistic healing, human connection and our inherent responsibility to protect and nourish our natural resources and environments. Her ambitions are that her life’s work will make a positive impact on the world and to help others live healthy, happy lives. Sara is a lover of nature and holds the conviction that this connection is necessary to her well-being as well as all others and so supports in the development and vision of the association. When not nurturing these connections at the home office she is likely off frolicking in the wild. To contact Sara, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, M.D.
Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, M.D. is an OB-Gyn and Integrative Medicine physician from Cedar Falls, Iowa, who practices at Van Diest Medical Center/Mercy Des Moines. She is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as the American Board of Integrative Medicine. Additionally, she completed a 500-hour course in herbal medicine with Dr. Tieraona Low Dog. Dr. Bartlett Hackenmiller’s passion for integrative medicine and nature therapy arose from her personal journey through raising a child on the autism spectrum, her husband’s death from cancer, the inadequacies of conventional medicine, and her personal discovery of solace in both outdoor adventure and mindfulness in nature. She and her husband, Joe, lead workshops combining mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, integrative wellness topics, and the practice of Shinrin Yoku/Japanese forest bathing for women’s empowerment, individuals with special needs, cancer survivors, and others.
Dr. Bartlett Hackenmiller has been quoted and featured in numerous publications, including Prevention Magazine, the American Airlines American Way Magazine, and Web MD on the subject of nature therapy, and currently serves as medical director for the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.
Since childhood, Caitlin has been driven by her deep desire to live a life close to the earth and in service to the health of all life. She offers forest-bathing walks as an opportunity for people to develop an intimate relationship with the land and to connect to the innate processes that bring health and wellness to us as organisms. She knows our health is intimately tied to the health of the land and visa versa. It is her intention that this work lead to tender relationships with nature that bring greater health and vitality to individuals and invoke greater stewardship and commitment to the healthy regeneration of our world. As a guide Caitlin brings joy, grace, loving compassion and a deep sense of beauty and presence. She is dedicated to the future generations and leaving them a healthy, happy, thriving world.
Christy is the music program director for the local YMCA, a violinist and vocalist. She finds her quiet time in the outdoors to take the star role in her self-care. Indiana's beautiful deciduous forests are wonderful, all four seasons. Her forest therapy practice works primarily through local organizations: counseling services, local and state parks, and ACRES landtrust. She is currently in school studying Environmental Science, with a minor is Religious Studies. Her primary interests lie in indigenous people's use of plant medicine and the translation of that in to modern herbal medicine.
Geeta is a certified Forest Therapy Guide based in Portugal. She is the founder of the company Renature where she creates and facilitates restorative programs that promote wellbeing and health through Forest Therapy, nature connection practices, clean eating and self-care. She works all over the world with various populations that range from the general public, corporate senior and junior teams, schools, families, mental health populations and individuals recovering from situations of excess stress and resulting depression and anxiety.
Her passion is to bring human beings back to nature and support the reconnection to the restorative potency of the natural world. Based on her own recovery journey, she creates a safe space for the nature connection and self-care journey to unfold. Over the past 20 years she has dedicated a great part of her time and resources to her own development and self-care journey and this life experience is the foundation for her work.
She is trained in Forest Therapy, Embodied Mindfulness and Conscious Resting and in the field of Healthcare as a Pharmacist. She is trained in Council and Active Meditation Techniques and is currently training to be a Life Coach. She holds a Masters in Business Management and is fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish and French.
Hana Lee Goldin
Hana Lee Goldin is the Editor-in-Chief of Forest Bathing International and is also a forest therapy guide certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. She founded The Sacred Wilds, a nature-based wellness practice serving the Bay Area. She also has her Master's degree in Library and Information Science from the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University and has combined this unique skill set to establish The Forest Library, whose mission is to advance the fields and advocate the power of nature and forest therapy through effective dissemination of knowledge via compelling, current, and credible content. Hana Lee lives in San Francisco and can be found roaming the Presidio and Golden Gate Park.
As a certified nature and forest therapy guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs, Jackie loves guiding people for an immersive experience in Nature. She also loves teaching others how to make certain Chinese food, including dumplings. So she combined her two passions and launched a successful AirBnB Experience called “Forest Bathing with Jiazi Dumplings” in the spring of 2018. Born and raised in rural China, Jackie spent a lot of time outdoors as a child, helping her grandmother gather firewood and following her grandfather around as he raised buffaloes. She came to the United States as a PhD candidate in 1990 and made Los Angeles her home after completing her studies. Besides leading forest therapy walks, Jackie also does translation work and advocates for her autistic son Chris.
Katarina Cuk Owl isthe first certified Forest Therapy Guide in Slovenia, EU, author of the book Our Timeless Nature, Forest Selfness guide and a certified meditation guide. Her Slovene surname Cuk means ‘little owl – athene noctua’ in English.
Living really close to nature from childhood, she has always sought comfort, support and inspiration in the forest. A few years after moving to the city as a student of translation sciences, she realized she longs for that deep connection again - to re-connect to her-self. At a major career shift she decided to work in nature, for nature, with nature, got educated in different areas needed, wrote a book about our connection to nature, and started to promote the importance of returning back to nature for support, and helped people do that through workshops, articles and meditation in nature. She joined the team of Forest Selfness green tourism program as a guide in 2014, through it met Amos Clifford in 2016 and immediately knew ANFT is the embodiment of work she feels has to be done in the world. She did her training in Cohort 10 in California in 2017. Currently she combines her work in sustainable tourism and Forest Therapy Guiding.
Pamela Wirth, CPCC is a certified Forest Therapy guide, mentor, coach and the mom of an amazing teenager. Her work with individuals and groups has evolved since 1990 and is informed by deep love and care for Life. www.heartvisioncoach.com
Her background and certifications include:
Guide and mentor, Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides
Certified Professional Coactive Coach, The Coaches Institute
Circlework facilitator, Institute for Circlework
Soulstream coach and mentor, Life Blessing Institute
Maiden Spirit Rites of Passage mentor, Life Blessing Institute
Trance Dance leader, The Natale Institute
Certified coach, Feminine Power Leadership Training
Ronna Schneberger is a professional naturalist and hiking guide, speaker, coach and yoga/ meditation teacher. She is an award-winning guide and Master Interpreter in the Canadian Mountain Parks. She is the first person in Alberta to guide the simple yet powerful Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku. As faculty with Leadership Development at the Banff Centre, Ronna has been working with professionals and executives using nature as the teacher to create powerful reflections and transformation. She knows that when people feel connected to nature they become connected to themselves, others and everything else in their life becomes clear.
Shirley Gleeson is a certified Forest Therapy Guide and Mentor with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. She was an assistant trainer for the Forest Therapy training in Ireland in 2016 and completed the Council of Water and Trees training with the association. She has been facilitating Forest Therapy walks nationally and internationally since 2014 after completing her training in Sonoma County, US. Her work has featured in the Irish Times, A Lust for Life and Wellfest as well as giving workshops and conference presentations for the Institute of Public Health Ireland, Environmental Education Ireland, GMIT Outdoor Education Conference and the International Conference on Landscape and Human Health.
Shirley has facilitated Forest Therapy walks for a number of community mental health groups as well as local authority areas. She trained as a Nature Guide with Ecotraining in South Africa in 2008 and undertook an internship with the People and Conservation Departments of the South African National Parks in 2010. She has trained in ecotherapy in the UK.
She is also a qualified social worker with over 15 years’ experience working in the public, private and voluntary sector in Ireland. She received her Bachelor of Social Science from UCD (University College Dublin) and Masters of Social Work from UCC (University College Cork). As well as her Forest Therapy work, Shirley also works as a Senior Social Worker in adult mental health.
She has extensive postgraduate training in expressive arts therapy, counselling, stress management, therapeutic play, dialectical behavioural therapy skills, behavioural family therapy and therapeutic use of mindfulness. She is also a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning) facilitator.
She has recently completed an MA in Health Promotion in NUIG (National University of Ireland Galway) and designed, implemented and evaluated a Forest Intervention for adults who were experiencing stress for her thesis.
Stana Luxford Oddie
Forest Therapy Guide, Mentor and Trainer
Stana has been working for the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority (CRCA) for over twenty years as the Senior Conservation Educator. Inspired by Earth Education, the Coyote’s Guide to Nature Connection and Forest schools, Stana aims to connect people with their head, heart and hands to nature. Through the CRCA, Stana brings Forest Therapy walk experiences to the community, private and public organizations and continues to pilot Forest Therapy to elementary and secondary school aged children and youth. The CRCA was the first conservation authority in Ontario to offer Forest Therapy which is now rapidly spreading to other CAs.
Stana received her BA from the University of Waterloo in 1998, in the Applied Studies Co-op program with Honours History. She earned her Bachelor of Education at Queen’s in 1999 from the Specialized Outdoor and Experiential Education Program.
Her work related to Forest Therapy continues to open her heart and deepen her relationship with all beings.
Dr. Svetlana Zdravković is a Jungian analyst, a member of the International Association of Analytical Psychologists (IAAP) and a member of the Independent Group of Analytical Psychologists (IGAP) in London, UK. She is a doctor of psychology and a specialist in medical psychology. She works at the Institute of Mental Health in Belgrade, Serbia. There, she works as a Jungian analyst, clinical psychologist, educator and workshop leader. She is a lecturer, workshop and seminar leader by invitation in the Independent Group of Analytical Psychologists in London (IGAP) and the Jung`s Institute in Zurich (ISAP). Dr Zdravković is the author of two books, numerous articles and the translator of two books from the field of analytical psychology. Her areas of professional expertise include analytical psychology and creativity, active imagination, dreams, mandalas, sexuality, mythology, archetypes of the feminine, the individuation process, complexes and more.
Vicky Kyan is the first ANFT Certified Guide, Mentor and Trainer in the Southern Hemisphere. She is a strong advocate for the practice of Nature and Forest Therapy, and for the promotion of trainings in the South Pacific. She is largely inspired by her local ocean beach, seashore and estuary ecosystems, where she has pioneered this work since her Guide Training with ANFT in North California in May 2015.
Vicky operates a small Homestay holiday retreat, where she offers ‘Wellbeing Wanders’ Nature and Forest Therapy guided experiences. When she is not travelling she uses her Pacific Island home as a base for mentoring ANFT trainee guides and building network with nature connection contacts both nationally and around the world. She is also an active member of the ANFT International Training Team and travels to trainings around the world.