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.
Dharma Mountain is a meditation and freedom resort dedicated to helping people to slow down and rediscover their inner peace. Set in the midst of meadows, forestland, a small lake, and a beautiful river, it offers its inhabitants a chance to find a private corner of the land to rest and discover the natural beauty of Norway.
Dharma Mountain offers simple, comfortable accommodations in its cabins, meadowland for those who wish to camp, and a panoramic mountain view no matter where you stay. It also has a sauna available for rent. Dharma Mountain offers an early bird special until April 10th, 2019 for people who are staying in the cabins, so we recommend that you book your rooms soon after you confirm your enrollment.
Participants have the option to stay in a cabin or camp, with camping as a less expensive option.
Each cabin has 2 bedrooms, a kitchen equipped with the basics, and a full bath. Participants have the option of either booking a single room or staying in shared accommodations, which means that they can share a double room or sleep in the semi-private loft in the common space. Should participants want to store their belongings in the room, but sleep in the common space, that is okay too. Each bedroom has unattached bunks (pictured) with a larger bottom bunk.
Campers will have access to the main house facilities, and will need to bring their own camping equipment.
Meals are included with the pricing of both cabin and camping accommodations.
Pricing is for the entire length of the training:
Early bird special until April 10th, 2019
5800 NOK for shared room/loft
7060 NOK for single room
4400 NOK for camping
Normal pricing after April 10th, 2019
6400 NOK for shared room/loft
7660 NOK for single room
4400 NOK for camping
Linens and towels can be provided for 190 NOK.
It takes approximately two hours from Oslo to drive to Dharma Mountain. You can look for instructions on how to get there through bus/train on their website here: http://dharmamountain.com/locationn/.
The cost of meals are included with the price of accommodations. They include breakfast, a packed lunch each day, and dinner. Tea will be served in the morning and evening.
Please note that meals will be pescatarian.
Dharma Mountain is able to accommodate special diets, including gluten and lactose free. Participants should inform Dharma Mountain of their dietary needs when they make reservations, and no later than 10 days before the training begins.
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.
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.