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.
Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge
Shadowcliff is a down to earth, non-profit mountain sanctuary and retreat center that fosters connection not only between different people, but allows people to connect with both themselves and the environment as well. Described as being reminiscent of a comfortable, grown up summer camp, Shadowcliff offers incredible views of the surrounding mountains and Grand Lake, which is less than a ten minute walk away. This retreat center offers trainees a chance to explore the nearby lake, streams, and multitude of trails that wind up into Rocky Mountain National Park with the knowledge that they have a comfortable, joy-filled, and warm lodge to return to. The land surrounding Shadowcliff is described as majestic and awe-inspiring, and with the fall colors of September, should be a wonderful location for forest therapy.--
Participants will be staying in the lodges at Shadowcliff, which offer triple, double, and single rooms. There are a limited number of single rooms dependent on the number of participants, and so will not be available until a closer date to the training.
Prices are as follows, and include meals:
$75 for a shared triple room
$90 for a shared double room
$120 for a private single room
Rooms at Shadowcliff are rustic, but comfortable. Both the Cliffside Lodge and Rempel Lodge offer lounges and fireplaces, as well as spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The Rempel Lodge, where the majority of people will be staying, is a chalet-style alpine lodge that sits between the mountains and lake, and right above the North Inlet Stream, which murmurs throughout the day, and also offers a library for downtime. Most rooms have a queen sized bed and then one or two bunk beds. Rooms will be allocated so that no one will be sleeping on the top bunk of any bed.
There are also cabins available, which cost $120 a night and do not include meals. It’s possible that, if you arrange it with other participants directly, these cabins could be shared.
Linens and towels will be provided at no additional cost. There is wi-fi on site, as well as games, fireplaces, and firepits available.
Denver is a 2.5-3 hour drive away and Boulder is a 2.5 hour drive away. There are shuttles available that go to Grand Lake, CO, which is a 3-minute drive from the lodge, as well as Greyhounds that stop at a city around 20 minutes away. There are taxi services available in Grand Lake as well.
Food prices are built into the prices of accommodations, listed above. There are also fully equipped kitchens available to the participants in both of the lodges. Shadowcliff will also provide tea and coffee at no extra charge.
Meals are mostly vegetarian, but meat will be served every other day or so. Additional meat dishes can be bought at an extra charge. Shadowcliff tries to source seasonal, local, organic food when possible. They will typically require two volunteers to help clean up per meal. Extra hot breakfasts cost $5 per person, per meal. Extra meat to meals costs $5 per person, per meal.
For day use guests, daily meal passes cost $40.
All dietary restrictions and activity requests must be made 14 days before the event start date. Shadowcliff will try to accommodate any late requests, but cannot guarantee that they will be able to.
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. Accommodations can be booked through ANFT.
Amos Clifford is the founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs and author of the best selling Your Guide to Forest Bathing (Conari Press 2018). 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. Amos has been the primary developer of ANFT's acclaimed training programs.