Certification Process for Forest Therapy Guides
The Purpose of Certification
Our certification program is building a growing network of professional forest therapy guides who:
- Create consistently high-quality, safe and healthy experiences for clients
- Inspire the confidence of physicians and other health care system referrers
- Contribute in a positive way to the public and policy maker perceptions of Shinrin-yoku, forest therapy, and other forms of nature-based therapy and eco-therapy.
- Increase public awareness of the connective and healing power of nature
- Help establish certified forest therapy trails, areas for mindful walking and sensory opening activities on public lands
- Are information and advocacy resources for forest therapy and nature connection
- Work on the front lines to help transform our cultural relationships to forests through fostering deeper relationships and positive experiences with forested areas
Certification is a fun, engaging, and challenging process involving four steps:
Step 1: The Weeklong Intensive Training
You will complete an intensive weeklong training course with a group of other trainees, led by our expert instructors. During this time you will spend a week in nature learning the art and practice of Forest Therapy Guiding. These trainings take place in various forest settings around the world.
Step 2: The Mentored Practicum
After you have completed the weeklong intensive, you will be mentored through the curriculum of the six-month practicum, which will greatly expand upon your learning and hone your competency in the skills and knowledge of Forest Therapy Guiding. The practicum is to be completed remotely using conference calls and check-ins with your mentoring "pod," a group of three or four other trainees and your mentor.
We provide a curriculum with monthly assignments. Additional resources to support you during your practicum are available on this website, through the Member Portal accessed through Member Login
Month by month, you will be guided on an journey in which you steadily build your confidence and skills in seven key areas:
- Forest Therapy Trail Exploration
- Tea Plant Exploration
- Exploring the Web of Being
- The Way of the Guide
- Building your Deck of Forest Therapy Invitations
- Reading for Professional Growth
- The Business of Guiding
Lissa Kennedy (cohort 17) reflects on her Practicum experience
Step 3: First Aid Certification Requirement
Before you can be certified as a Forest Therapy Guide, you must possess a current Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certificate. This is obtained from third-party organizations like National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), and many other organizations. The class is typically a two-day event, and tuition is usually in the range of $175-300 USD.
Step 4: Approval for Certification
After completing the intensive training and the practicum, you and your mentor will assess your skills and knowledge. The expectation is that you will have demonstrated competency and met the practicum criteria for certification. If either you, or your mentor, feels you have not met the requirements, then together you will update your action plan and complete any additional steps necessary to certify. If these additional steps extend beyond the six months allotted for the practicum, then there is a practicum extension fee.
Once you and your mentor agree that you have demonstrated competency in the standards, have completed the requirements for certification, and are current with all payments, you will be granted certification as a Forest Therapy Guide.
Post Certification: Deepen into the Art and Technique of Guiding
After receiving your certification, we encourage guides to deepen their skills and knowledge through practice, continued education and self-reflection. Immersion courses such as "Way of the Circle," "Council of Waters and Trees," "Way of the Guide," and others offered by ANFT are a potent opportunity to strengthen your connection to and knowledge of this work. You may also choose related courses provided by other organizations or create your own learning experience.