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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.
Our trainers are among the most experienced guides in the world and each one undergoes a rigorous training process beyond their certification as guides. The trainers listed below on this page are subject to change based on trainer availability; no matter which trainers you work with, you will be taught by the best in the field.
In this training, you will learn:
- The Standard Sequence of Guided Forest Therapy Walks
- Professional standards and competencies: what a Forest Therapy Guide should know and be able to do
- The pedagogy and fundamentals of nature connection
- 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
- Creating space for others to find their own authentic nature connection
- Accelerating connection to deep mindfulness and bodyfulness through simple sensory invitations
- What makes a good setting for forest therapy
- How to facilitate restorative human connection through storytelling and witnessing
- Our theoretical framework of deep nature connection through embodiment, liminality, reciprocity and relationship
- 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.
Zigbone Farm Retreat
Zigbone Farm Retreat sits on a 100 acres of gardens, forest, and mountainside pastures and offers a space for creativity, discovery, and rest. Zigbone has an environment that has been lovingly created from salvaged and local natural materials. The buildings are light-filled and cozy, and offer a variety of affordable rooms, ranging from single, shared, and common space areas at low cost. A variety of animals roam the property making it very possible that you will run into a curious goat during your walk, see chickens scratching for seeds at your sit-spot, or chance upon wildlife in the surrounding forests.
There are only two single rooms available, which each have a queen bed and a set price of $100/night. These will be in high demand and will fill up quickly.
There are several rooms with two beds, which are offered at $90/night per person, and two dorms that are shared between 4-5 people which cost $75/night per person. There are also two beds in alcoves situated in the common space which cost $70/night per person.
All rooms offer a cozy space to relax.
All reservations can be made with ANFT at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zigbone is around an hour and a half away from Dulles International Airport. There are taxi and ridesharing services available, but ANFT will not be arranging for participant transportation.
This training is not catered. There is a large kitchen space available to participants, barbecues, and a pizza oven ready for use. There are supermarkets 5-10 minutes away, and there are often vegetables on the farm that participants are welcome to graze on.
$3410. Please note that the tuition amount does not include the cost of transportation, accommodation, or meals.
Zigbone Farm Retreat
Ben ‘Crow’ Page is the Director of Training for the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy as well as a trainer of guides. He is the founder of Shinrin Yoku LA and has been guiding Forest Therapy walks since 2016. Since his practice began, Ben has been featured in such publications as Women’s Health, USA TODAY, Good Morning America, The Washington Post, 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 primary interest is to live the question of what it means to be alive.
Nadine Mazzola is the Director of Practicum and Certification. She is author of “Forest Bathing with your Dog,” due out in August 2019, and founder of New England Nature and Forest Therapy Consulting through which she does work as a Certified Forest Therapy Guide, speaking and corporate wellness consulting. She has been guiding forest therapy walks since 2015. Nadine has been featured on PBS, ABC’s Chronicle and in the Boston Globe and Boston Magazine among others. 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. Nadine has a business and marketing background and was formerly a world professional pocket billiards player competing on the Women's Professional Billiard Tour. Also, an artist, she facilitates expressive arts classes often incorporating elements of forest therapy throughout.