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.
Gardoussel Retreat, France
Gardoussel (which means “guardian of the birds”) is a magical oasis of calm in one of the most beautiful and untouched parts of France. Set in the lush Cévennes mountains of the Languedoc region, this family-run retreat center is a place of stunning simplicity and natural beauty. Hammocks hang from an assortment of trees, and a swimming hole on the property invites guests to cool off during the late summer.
Gardoussel is surrounded by glorious pine, holm oak forests, and chestnut trees and provides shelter to an assortment of animals such as cats, donkeys, chickens, and the occasional wild beaver. The retreat is tucked away in a picturesque hamlet set in 45 acres of private meadow and woodland, and features a stream running below the property. While secluded and private, Gardoussel also has easy access to small French villages, and offers the perfect opportunity to tune into nature and to ourselves.
Rooms are shared and accommodate 2-4 people per room. Shared rooms for participants will be 615 euros/week, and will be same gender.
Single rooms might be available based on the number of participants attending the program or camping. Should they be available, they will be available for 740 euros/week.
The above prices include catering, linens, and use of the property. Please note: you will need to bring your own bath towels.
Participants may also camp for a reduced price of 400 euros/week. Gardoussel has two tents available, but they welcome people to bring their own camping equipment as well.
Book all reservations by emailing Sharon Black at email@example.com directly.
You can read about transportation options on Gardoussel’s website, here: http://www.gardoussel.com/travel.html.
Please note: this is a vegetarian training. There are restaurants and a market around a 20 minute walk away. Participants may cook meat for themselves in the kitchens available to them, but it will not be provided by the venue.
Meals will be made onsite by a chef. Prices for food are built into the cost of accommodations. Gardoussel uses almost entirely local and organic food. Dietary preferences/allergies must be communicated to Gardoussel as soon as possible, and no later than 2 weeks from the beginning of the training. For questions about food or to share your dietary preferences email Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. If you wish to book with Gardoussel, you must make your own arrangements; the cost is not included in the tuition. Please check current exchange rates for conversion to Euro or other currencies.
Geeta is a certified Forest Therapy Guide based in Portugal. She is the founder of the company Renature where she creates and facilitates restorative programs that promote wellbeing and health through Forest Therapy, nature connection practices, clean eating and self-care. She works all over the world with various populations that range from the general public, corporate senior and junior teams, schools, families, mental health populations and individuals recovering from situations of excess stress and resulting depression and anxiety.
Her passion is to bring human beings back to nature and support the reconnection to the restorative potency of the natural world. Based on her own recovery journey, she creates a safe space for the nature connection and self-care journey to unfold. Over the past 20 years she has dedicated a great part of her time and resources to her own development and self-care journey and this life experience is the foundation for her work.
She is trained in Forest Therapy, Embodied Mindfulness and Conscious Resting and in the field of Healthcare as a Pharmacist. She is trained in Council and Active Meditation Techniques and is currently training to be a Life Coach. She holds a Masters in Business Management and is fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish and French.