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.
Dartington Hall UK
Dartington Hall is the largest medieval manor in western England. With over 800 acres of verdant forests, abundant wildlife, and clear rivers, it serves as a wonderful backdrop for Forest Therapy Guide training. The training will be held on the Dartington Estate and no commuting will be necessary unless you are staying off-site. There may be one day when the group travels to a nearby location.
Private Student Accommodation:
Private, locking room with sink and access to shared bathrooms for the floor for the nights of May 20th-26th. Lodging includes breakfast only though other meals are available for purchase on site. Participants can book and pay directly through Dartington Hall. Reserved rooms for Perry (the private student accommodations) are £35 a night and include breakfast. Private rooms have locks and sinks, and access to share bathrooms for each floor. Smoking is prohibited in accommodations. Towels and bedding will be provided.
There is also camping available. To inquire about camping, contact Dartington Hall directly. At the campsites, there will be hot and cold water, toilets, and pay shower facilities available. Electricity (available on accessible pitches only) cost extra but are available as well.
Reservations for rooms and camping can be made at email@example.com once you have confirmed your enrollment into the program. Please make sure to let them know that you are part of the ANFT group.
Dartington Hall offers a helpful guide for getting to its grounds via bus, train, car, and bicycle. Click here
- Several restaurants are on-site at Dartington Hall with a range of dietary options. For more info visit https://www.dartington.org/visit/food-drink/
- Cooking: There is no place on site where guests can cook. Cooking is permitted at the campsites but you must bring your own equipment
- The town of Dartington has a small convenience store
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, transportation, or meals.
Please note that if you want to book accommodations at Dartington Hall, this cost will be added to your tuition.
Please check current exchange rates for conversion to Euro or other currencies.
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.
Vicky Kyan is the first ANFT Certified Guide, Mentor and Trainer in the Southern Hemisphere. She is a strong advocate for the practice of Nature and Forest Therapy, and for the promotion of trainings in the South Pacific. She is largely inspired by her local ocean beach, seashore and estuary ecosystems, where she has pioneered this work since her Guide Training with ANFT in North California in May 2015.
Vicky operates a small Homestay holiday retreat, where she offers ‘Wellbeing Wanders’ Nature and Forest Therapy guided experiences. When she is not travelling she uses her Pacific Island home as a base for mentoring ANFT trainee guides and building network with nature connection contacts both nationally and around the world. She is also an active member of the ANFT International Training Team and travels to trainings around the world.