Guide Certification Training

2020 Forest Therapy Guide Trainings

Training Application Form

What is a certified Forest Therapy Guide

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.

We have trained more guides in more countries on more continents than any other forest therapy organization. Simply put, we are the most experienced and the best at what we do.

We have recently upgraded our entire training program in response to the global pandemic. It has been an opportunity re-imagine and re-vision many elements of the training. It still contains all the same core content experienced by the first 53 cohorts of trainees. But now we've added more, and changed our pedagogy by deploying an enhanced "Distributed Learning" model. Thus, the trainings are no longer place-based, although there will an immersion at the end of the training, organized according to where trainees live, to reduce as much as possible travel and carbon footprint. These trainings fill up quickly, and often far in advance. We encourage you to apply early.

What 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 knowledge
  • Our framework for the Way of the Guide, wisdom on the inner aspects of the art gained through decades of experience
  • Accelerating connection to deep mindfulness through simple sensory invitations
  • Trail awareness and safety
  • Group process skills that promote interactive learning
  • Sequencing forest therapy invitations for maximum impact and benefit
  • Core routines of nature connection
  • Expressive arts activities for forest therapy
  • Somatic techniques for embodied awareness
  • Tips for successfully promoting your forest therapy offerings

Apply & Register

To begin the process of becoming a forest therapy guide, please choose a training and submit an application. We feel it is important to get to know people before they register for a training to make sure this is a good fit. We consider applications based on a variety of factors, but ultimately we're looking for individuals whom we believe will make good forest therapy guides. Being a good forest therapy guide does not require a background in forestry, psychotherapy or medicine; more often than not, the most desirable qualities in a guide are connected to how they tend relationships.

Once your application is received, our admissions team will review it, and if you are accepted into the program, send an acceptance letter within three weeks. This letter will contain all the information for next steps, including a link to the training registration page.

In 2020 ANFT Changed the training format.
Now much of it is done online and remotely. Is it still as good as the old training?

Yes! In fact, it's better. We are getting tremendous feedback from students. Here's why
Training Application Form

Human communities, like forests, thrive on diversity.
The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs is committed to creating and sustaining a welcoming, equitable, and inclusive environment for new guides, participants and contributors from all cultures and backgrounds. We strive to be a place of belonging for all people interested in cultivating healthy relationships
within human communities and the natural world.

Learn more about our Certification Process
During a guided forest therapy walk, people experience the therapeutic power of the forest. The forest itself is the therapist. We don't train therapists; we train guides.

We help people slow down, notice where they are and what
is around them, and make contact with the forest and with themselves through attention to their senses. This is how guides open the doorways through which the forest can accomplish its healing work.​​​

The practice of Forest Therapy clearly prioritizes sensory experience over intellectual understanding. Unlike more familiar approaches to nature education, Forest Therapy Guides are not primarily concerned with imparting naturalist knowledge. Nurturing curiosity and asking good questions is emphasized over imparting factual expertise.

When guides have developed baseline proficiency in the practice of Forest Therapy, they may begin to integrate Forest Therapy practices with other professional skills sets. For example, Forest Therapy can provide an excellent context for psychotherapy, professional life coaching, expressive arts, mindfulness meditation, PTSD recovery, and many more fields of professional endeavor. Individual guides bring their creativity and experience to the design of new and/or modified invitations, and are encouraged to share these with other guides via a private guides—only online forum maintained by the Association.

The Pathway to Training and Certification

Our Forest Therapy Guide Trainings are cohort-based and use many modalities of learning. They begin with a study program lasting six months, facilitated by our trainers, who are among the most experienced Forest Therapy Guides in the world. After this you will meet with trainers for a four day immersion to practice the skills you have learned and get feedback. Typically, you will be certified at the end of this immersion. Candidates who complete all steps of the training and certification process, and have demonstrated competency in all of the certification standards, will earn the status of Certified Forest Therapy Guide.

Beyond this, many participants report that this training profoundly affects many aspects of their lives. We don't make any promises of personal transformation; our aim is to train competent guides. But there is something about how the training experience deeply re-connects people to nature and themselves that can indeed be transformational. Many people experience forest therapy, including the training, as a kind of “spiritual experience that is not called a spiritual experience.” Perhaps you will also.

Note: 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 NOLS. The class is typically a two-day event that and costs $175-300 USD; online versions of the class may be less expensive. Being able to respond to minor first-aid emergencies is a critically important skill for all Forest Therapy Guides!
“I completed the training in June and recently started taking my clients on nature therapy walks. The feedback has been fantastic! What struck me was how well the training prepared me. I felt I had a plenty of tools and that I could adapt the therapy to any client. I know how to chose a location, talk about the process with clients, and deal with surprises. I feel so prepared. 

As a psychologist I find nature therapy an invaluable way to assist clients in accessing something healing that can't be accessed through talk therapy. Thank you!”

—Christa Smith, Psy.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist