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.
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 effects on health care and well-being
- Our framework for the Way of the Guide, wisdom on the inner aspects of the art gained through decades of experience
- The leadership skills and style of the Guide archetype
- Accelerating connection to deep mindfulness through simple sensory invitations
- What makes a good setting for forest therapy
- How to facilitate social connection, to strengthen nature connection
- Sequencing forest therapy invitations for maximum impact and benefit
- Expressive arts activities for forest therapy
- Somatic techniques for embodied awareness
- Our aim is simple: to train competent guides. However, many participants report that this training profoundly affects many aspects of their lives.
Dancing Deer is a stunning property of 40 acres, surrounded by a further 40 acres of land filled with oaks, hills, and meandering paths. The Hacienda House, where participants will stay, is a cozy but spacious hilltop home with plenty of room to relax and unwind after a day of training. The nearby meadows and woodlands invite people to wander through the quiet of the property and serve as a home to wildlife.
There are a number of common spaces and outdoor gathering spaces, which will ensure everyone has the downtime and space that they need during the training.
Double rooms are $85/night per person. Rooms shared with 4 people cost $75/night per person, and one media room with a pull out bed that will also cost $75/night. The media room also functions as a single room, but is considered common space because people must pass through it to get to their own rooms, and so the price is reduced.
There is only one single room available (which is not a common space) with a twin bed and a private bathroom, which will cost $115/night.
Reservations can be made with ANFT directly at email@example.com.
Dancing Deer is around a 20-minute drive away from San Luis Obispo, and around a 2 hour drive away from Fresno International Airport. We will allow participants to sign up for rideshares if they'd like, but will not be responsible for coordinating it.
Meals will not be catered. There is plenty of space for participants to cook, however. There are two large refrigerators, expansive countertops, a commercial stove, and a BBQ outside. Trader Joe’s is a 6-minute drive away. We encourage communal cooking and the sharing of meals, but do not arrange for this.
Tuition for the six-month Guide Training and Certification Program is $3410 USD. This includes the week-long intensive training and six months of mentored practicum. It does not include travel, lodging, ground transportation, or meals.
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.
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.
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.