Photo: The ANFT InternationalTraining Team at annual trainer's summit, Joshua Tree California, January 2019
What Distinguishes ANFT: Our methods and scope of practice are based upon scientifically backed research in health science. We teach a standard sequence of techniques that assist participants in receiving the full health impacts of forest medicine. The standard sequence provides a strong framework that helps participants slow down, awaken their senses, and reconnect with the more than human world, and it is culturally neutral so that it can be creatively adapted to working with an incredible diversity of populations. Our practice operates within the paradigm of holistic healing; the medicine of the forest is a complex wellness experience, good for the body, the mind, and the spirit.

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 500 of us (growing each month), in over 40 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.

Our Team

Founder

Amos Clifford

Founder

Executive Leadership Council

Pamela Wirth

Director of Partnerships & Community

Nadine Mazzola

Director of Practicum and Certification, Trainer & Mentor

Ben "Crow" Page

Director of Training, Trainer & Mentor

Staff

Sara Ahmadi

Chief Operations Officer

Michelle Hickey

Director of Member Services, Trail Certification, and Partnerships

Angela Gross

Admissions & Venue Coordinator

Caitlin Williams

Mentor Training Project Manager, Trainer & Mentor

Pam Andruskiewicz

Practicum & Certification Assistant-Coordinator

Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, M.D.

Medical Advisor

Svetlana Zdravkovic

Advisor

Trainers & Mentors

Tam Willey

Trainer & Mentor

Manuela Siegfried

Trainer & Mentor

Vicky Kyan

Trainer & Mentor

Jackie Kuang

Trainer & Mentor

Geeta Stilwell

Trainer & Mentor

Christy Thomson

Trainer & Mentor

Stana Luxford-Oddie

Trainer & Mentor

Ronna Schneberger

Trainer & Mentor

Carolynne Crawley

Trainer & Mentor

Hanna-Kaisa Heilimo

Mentor

Leigha Horton

Mentor

Ken Ouendag

Mentor

Andrea Prazmowski

Mentor

Cayla Samano

Mentor

Brenda Spitzer

Mentor

Jane West

Mentor, Trainer-in-Training

Katarina Čuk

Mentor